The Nationals WA are furious the McGowan Government saw fit to hand regional Western Australia just 8 per cent of a $250 million royalty settlement with BHP when legislation stipulates it must be 25 per cent.
The Royalties for Regions Act 2009 – hard fought and won by The Nationals a decade ago – requires 25 per cent of all mining royalties in Western Australia to be spent in regional communities outside of Perth.
Leader Mia Davies said despite the requirements of the Act, the McGowan Government today announced $230 million of unpaid BHP royalties – or 92 per cent of the total sum – would be spent in the city.
“It is profoundly disappointing that, despite 100 per cent of the iron ore coming from the Pilbara and the requirements of the Royalties for Regions Act, only 8 per cent of the revenue from the $250 million settlement will go back to the bush,” Ms Davies said.
“While The Nationals are supportive of a new maternity hospital in Perth, the State Government has a number of revenue sources at its disposal to pay for it.
“We’ve seen this Government pillage Royalties for Regions to pay for services which under every other Premier in WA history have come from consolidated revenue. Now we’re seeing the regions short-changed again in this royalty settlement.
“It’s just another example of Labor’s metro-centric approach to governing.”
Treasury spokesperson Terry Redman said the McGowan Government would use the excuse that the Royalties for Regions account was full, having exceeded the $1 billion cap for this financial year.
“However, to compensate regional communities for the royalties forgone the McGowan Government could easily dip into their consolidated revenue pool to bring the settlement figure for country WA up to $62.5 million and thus 25 per cent of the royalty windfall,” Mr Redman said.
“But I reckon you’d see pigs fly before this city-centric McGowan Government does that.
“They’ve proven time and again that Perth is their priority.”
Mr Redman said Royalties for Regions had been bastardised by Labor since Mr McGowan became Premier in 2017.
“For example, Labor now pays for the country water pricing subsidy out of Royalties for Regions – worth $1.06 billion over the next four years,” he said.
“This is nothing but money laundering when you consider royalty dollars marked ‘regional development’ are fed into the Water Corporation, an entity that pays a huge dividend to the Government, and spat back out into consolidate revenue marked ‘city projects’.”