Discontent over new-look R4R

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Nick ButterlyNorth West Telegraph
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State Labor has repurposed the Royalties for Regions program, redirecting billions to the delivery of basic services and election promises in marginal seats.

Treasurer Ben Wyatt confirmed the State Government had undertaken a “comprehensive review” of the fund as part of efforts to claw back debt, and cash once earmarked for special projects in the bush would be redirected to regional schools, health services and infrastructure.

In a major shift, the Government has also revealed R4R will be used to fund 80 per cent of a water subsidy for regional areas previously funded out of consolidated revenue, at a cost of almost $300 million a year. The Government will now use R4R cash to pay for mental health programs, to fund efforts to combat methamphetamine use and to pay the wages of support assistants in classrooms.

R4R was created as part of a deal between the Liberals and the WA Nationals to form government after the 2008 election.

Mr Wyatt said the changes made to R4R would improve net debt by $861 million across the four years of the Budget. Nationals leader Mia Davies said R4R was dead in all but name.

“Royalties for Regions is now nothing more than a Labor party slush fund for members of Parliament with Labor electorates,” she said.

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