Royalties for Regions is not resting in peace – it is pulled apart, decimated and hurting!
The McGowan Labor Government budget will use $861 million from Royalties for Regions to pay for essential government services such as health, education and water in the regions. This means money that has always come from general government funds will now be paid from Royalties for Regions, reducing the amount available for regional economic and social development.
Member for Warren-Blackwood, Terry Redman explains the cost-shifting is going to result in at least a 40% reduction in available funds over the longer term. The $861 million quoted today becomes $1.55 billion when the full impact of changes hits the full four years of the budget in 2 years. This is based on normal on-going government funding for just four items – Patient Assisted Travel Scheme, TAFE subsidies, water, and remote essential services – now coming out of Royalties for Regions.
“I understand the Labor Government has the right to make adjustments to the Royalties for Regions program – but it does not have the right to dismantle a program that is needed, is legislated and which, pre-election, it duped many country voters into believing it supported,” Mr Redman said.
The budget handed down by the McGowan Labor Government hits regional families hard. Mr McGowan espouses the importance of education for all students no matter where they live, yet he cuts the Boarding Away from Home Allowance. He also cuts the Community Childcare Development fund making it more difficult for families to access childcare, and therefore impacting their ability to work outside the home.
Programs like Super Towns are long-term strategies for regional development – they are not, as Minister MacTiernan would have you believe, only about population growth. They are about maximising regional business opportunities. They are about increasing tourism. They are about improving liveability to encourage residents to stay, and to attract the doctors, nurses, teachers, police and other service providers necessary to sustain country life.
The over 100 Community Resource Centres across the state will lose 38.5% of their funding per year. This will severely impact the range and level of services they are able to provide to our smaller communities, and trivialises the important role they play in these communities.
The very important Community Chest Fund goes from $5 million to $100,000 next year and then disappears completely. This fund supported small community organisations with upgrades and project funding that was identified as important to regional towns. We should be supporting these volunteer organisations as they provide a range of services to our towns and keep people connected.
The Regional Grant Scheme, administered by the Regional Development Commissions progressed important regional projects – however it will go from $17.8million this year, to $1.2 million next year, and then is zero! This does nothing to empower the regions in determining priorities and progressing substantial projects, and will reduce them to begging for hand-outs.
Regional WA is not some sparsely populated irrelevance or inconvenience. It is a powerhouse of WA’s economy and we need to support the people who farm there, mine there, run small businesses there, and provide the services that underpin regional communities and the regional economy.
Royalties for Regions in its original format is important – not just to the people of country Western Australia, but to every West Australian, as we all benefit from a healthy and viable regional economy. The Nationals WA will not let Royalties for Regions die peacefully – we will continue to fight for a fair deal for all regional Western Australians.