Project funds uncertainty

Tom ZaunmayrNorth West Telegraph

Federal funding for regional West Australian projects could be harder to come by because of the State Government’s changes to Royalties for Regions, according to Durack MHR Melissa Price.

The multibillion-dollar regional funding program has regularly been used for the past eight years as a means to attract further funding from the Federal Government.

With a portion of the Royalties for Regions piggy bank now being diverted to budget repair, services, and maintenance of existing facilities, Ms Price has warned the ability to attract Federal funding could be affected.

“The model for funding big regional projects in Australia is often funded by a contribution from the State Government and a contribution from the Commonwealth, with perhaps some other money coming from the local government and the private sector,” she said.

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“Now, with the State Government’s decision, my fear is that important projects may not go ahead due to lack of funding.

“Labor doesn’t care about regional WA and doesn’t understand how to stimulate the economies of our towns and communities.”

Ms Price said proposed changes to the gold tax were also of concern.

Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan said WA’s Federal representatives had done a poor job fighting for funding for the State for years.

“Why is it that over all of these years where there has been so much money invested here, that we have seen so little come through from the Federal Government?” she said.

“We have heaps of projects we would love to get the Commonwealth to fund us, to go halfway as they do in Queensland.

“For example, on our wild dog program, we get a measly $2 million from the Federal Government and I understand Queensland gets more than $10 million.”

Ms MacTiernan said until the Federal Government fixed WA’s GST share, this was the only option the State Government had.

A total of $5 million a year over four years has been provided in the State Budget to set up a Regional Development Leverage Unit to identify opportunities for third-party investment from the Commonwealth, private sector and other parties in regional WA.

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