05/12/2007 - 22:00

Omodei makes pitch for the future

05/12/2007 - 22:00

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State opposition leader Paul Omodei has proposed the development of “major sustainable cities” at Karratha and Derby as part of a long-term plan to foster development in the north of Western Australia.

Omodei makes pitch for the future

State opposition leader Paul Omodei has proposed the development of “major sustainable cities” at Karratha and Derby as part of a long-term plan to foster development in the north of Western Australia.

He has also called on the business sector to offer increased support for socially and economically disadvantaged members of the community.

Mr Omodei outlined these proposals in a major speech last weekend that was designed to shore up his faltering leadership position and spell out a policy vision for the future.

The speech followed yet another spate of speculation about his tenure, with deputy opposition leader Troy Buswell widely touted as the likely replacement.

Mr Omodei tried to make the most of his attributes, acknowledging he was not a slick performer but did offer a real alternative.

“I’m certainly no George Clooney and I don’t have the dance moves of a Peter Garrett,” he said.

“But WA doesn’t need another leader more focused on the camera than the job at hand.”

Mr Omodei opened his speech by reminding the audience that, across Australia, the Liberal party has lost more than 20 state elections in a row.

“The message from the Australian people is clear – the Liberal Party must change,” he said. “We need to acknowledge the way the world is, and stop trying to make it what it was.”

Mr Omodei put forward a five-point plan that summed up his policies and vision for WA.

“In talking about change; the first place we in the Liberal Party need to look is in our own backyard.”

Mr Omodei said the party should start by looking at the candidates it endorsed for the next state election, with a call for greater representation of women, young people and minority groups.

Mr Omodei said the results of the federal election highlighted the need for the Liberal Party to adopt new environmental and social policies.

He noted that the blue-ribbon Liberal seat of Curtin, retained by deputy opposition leader Julie Bishop, attracted a green vote of more than 13 per cent.

If he wins government at the next state election, Mr Omodei plans to adopt a triple bottom line approach to deliver “sustainable development”.

“The perception that we are a ‘knock it down at any cost’ party, ends today.”

He endorsed the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, a move that had been opposed by former prime minister John Howard.

Mr Omodei said the party also needed more inclusive, tolerant social policies.

“I want to change the perception that the Liberal Party doesn’t care about people in need, and that we’re just a party for the rich,” he said.

“The Liberal Party needs to strike a greater balance between economic growth and social development.”

In government, Mr Omodei said, he would encourage those who are benefiting from the boom to consider those who are not.

In the area of economic policy, Mr Omodei said he was committed to lowering state taxes, which are at record levels in WA.

However, other than scrapping the Carpenter government’s community cabinet and liaison unit, he did not provide any examples of where he would reduce government spending and cut what he called the “bloated bureaucracy”.

His highest priority would be improving the delivery of front-line services such as schools, hospitals and police services, among others.

Mr Omodei said the strategic planning and development of northern WA was one of his pet projects.

“The development of the north will include the development of sustainable major cities, probably around Karratha and Derby,” he said.

 “The development of these cities will occur over a 25-year time frame and will include the provision of social infrastructure, such as co-located hospitals and universities.

“This plan will deliver economic diversification, such as knowledge-intensive manufacturing, bio prospecting, biotechnology and natural resource value adding.”

Another part of Mr Omodei’s agenda was a strategic energy plan to ensure the state’s energy security and reduce dependence on oil.

“I will ensure Western Australia becomes a world leader in clean energy research and development, production and allied services and technology.”

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