20/10/2008 - 15:37

Debate rages over WA regional funding

20/10/2008 - 15:37

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The state's royalties for regions policy remained in the spotlight today as questions arise over the interpretation of the election pledge that underpins the Liberal-National government.

The state's royalties for regions policy remained in the spotlight today as questions arise over the interpretation of the election pledge that underpins the Liberal-National government.

Today Premier Colin Barnett restated there was no disagreement between his and Nationals leader Brendon Grylls' interpretation of the policy, where the Liberal Party promised to set aside 25 per cent of mining royalties for regional areas.

The clash centres on whether the 25 per cent of revenue from royalties includes forward estimates, or budgeted amounts, from the previous Labor government.

"At the end of the day we will honour the royalties for regions program," Mr Barnett said today.

"Twenty five per cent of mining royalties will be spent in country areas, over and above what would otherwise happen."

The Premier refused to say whether funding allocated in the forward estimates will be included in the royalties policy, saying he will not commit to previous Labor programs.

As part of the Nationals election campaign, Mr Grylls pledged that 25 per cent of royalties for regional projects will be over and above existing and budgeted expenditure.

Mr Barnett rejected claims that he misled Mr Grylls in the Liberals' courting of the Nationals in the week after the election, despite a letter from the Premier to the Nationals leader last month that indicates otherwise.

"The projects and expenditure will be over and above those currently funded in the regions by State Government...," Mr Barnett said in a letter dated September 12.

Today Mr Barnett said he believes his and Mr Grylls' intepretation of the funding program is similar.

Shadow Minister for Regional Development Alannah MacTiernan is calling for the Liberals to honour the written offer.

"This so-called alliance government has clearly been built on a very shaky foundation," she said.

"It is now clear the three most senior figures in Cabinet do not agree on the essence of the offer or what is going to be delivered to Western Australians living in the regions.

Ms MacTiernan said it was unacceptable that Mr Barnett, Mr Buswell and Mr Grylls were contradicting each other and contradicting themselves on a daily basis.

"There has been weeks of confusion over what the royalties for regions scheme will actually deliver. It's a case of different day, different deal," Ms MacTiernan said.

"Either this is complete incompetence or complete arrogance."

 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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