08/08/2011 - 12:19

Nationals leader accused of rorting

08/08/2011 - 12:19

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Nationals leader accused of rorting

The state opposition has accused Nationals leader Brendon Grylls of pork-barrelling by channelling almost a third of a special regional fund into just two Nationals seats.

But Mr Grylls, the minister for regional development, has rejected the criticism, saying the reason his Wheatbelt region receives a large part of the funding is because it has the majority of councils in WA.

Labor's regional development spokesman Mark McGowan says new figures show "rorting" of the Country Local Government Fund, with shires in the electorates of Mr Grylls and his deputy Terry Waldron set to receive the lion's share.

The fund is part of the state government's Regions for Royalties scheme under which 25 per cent of mining royalties go to the regions.

Mr McGowan said local governments in Mr Grylls' and Mr Waldron's seats in the Wheatbelt and Great Southern regions would receive almost 30 per cent of the 2011-12 funding.

Those two seats were set to rake in $32 million in funds while dozens of local governments in the other 15 non-metropolitan seats would be forced to split the remaining $76 million between them, he said.

Mr McGowan said all shires in the Wheatbelt would receive $16.7 million of funding while shires in the Pilbara would only receive $3.7 million and the Kimberley regional group of local governments would receive just $3 million.

"The manipulation of this fund in the political favour of the Nationals leader and his deputy is nothing short of disgraceful," he said.

But Mr Grylls on Monday said Mr McGowan made the same false claim each year about the fund, which provided money to 109 local governments based on a formula.

"Mark McGowan is 100 per cent correct that the majority of that goes to the Wheatbelt based on the fact that the majority of the councils in Western Australia are in the Wheatbelt."

Mr Grylls said Mr McGowan was wrong to say that the Pilbara was missing out because there was more than $1 billion of Royalties for Regions funding going to that region, while $300 million was going to projects in the Kimberley.

"The notion that Royalties for Regions is focussed on the Wheatbelt is only available to Mark McGowan if he takes in this one particular program."

Mr Grylls said a Commonwealth program of local government funding used a similar formula with similar outcomes but Mr McGowan was not saying the federal Labor government was supporting Nationals seats in the Wheatbelt.

"If he's so critical of the program he should talk about scrapping it if he doesn't like it, he's not prepared to do that because he knows that doesn't make sense."

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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