Member for Warren-Blackwood, Terry Redman stated that he and his Nationals WA colleagues intend to fight for the retention and autonomy of the Development Commissions and the local employment of their staff.
Prior to the election, the Labor Party stated that they supported the Regional Development Commissions, so it is interesting that so soon in Government Minister MacTiernan has stated that Development Commission staff will be employed by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development.
“This equates to less autonomy for the regions, with the unsatisfactory likelihood that funding, projects and planning will be controlled from a centralised department in Perth,” Mr Redman said.
In Parliament this week, Mr Redman said, “The Development Commissions have been the guiding light for government investment in regional Western Australia. In recent times they have been the platform for about $1 billion a year in extra resourcing to regional WA, directed to actually making a difference.”
“It is important to note that our regions contribute more than one-third of Western Australia’s economic activity and 95 per cent of the State’s exports. This is why it is vital to have adequate investment, leadership and advocacy based in the regions,” Mr Redman said.
The Regional Development Commissions Act 1993 defines the role of the commissions in terms of supporting jobs, growth and economic activity in regional Western Australia.
“The new Government is now watering down the advocacy of Development Commissions that have had a level of independent authority in being able to make decisions for the region it represents,” Mr Redman said.
I am particularly disappointed in the early performance of the Member for Bunbury, Don Punch, who was quoted in the local media as dismissing rumours that the CEO roles of the Development Commissions would be axed from July 1. Moments later we find out that all the CEO’s received a letter to say that their job would finish at the end of June.
I am appalled at this disregard for the role of the Development Commissions and I can’t help wondering what Mr Punch would be saying if he was still the CEO of the South West Development Commission. Would he have been happy reporting directly to a centralised department and losing oversight of the employment of staff and funding decisions? This is hypocrisy at its worst and a betrayal of the region he purports to represent.