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Regional projects gain $1.3m in latest round

THE Western Australian Wine Industry Association and Angli-care are two of the 21 organisations to receive State Government funding geared towards the promotion of growth and job prospects in regional WA.

The Government has $75 million available through the Regional Investment Fund. The latest round of grants, worth around $1.3 million, is part of the WA Regional Initiatives Scheme.

Funding has been provided to develop on-line nurse training, industry development, tourist trails and create online leadership sup-port in Indigenous communities.

Successful projects include $17,438 to the WA Wine Industry Association, $150,000 to Anglicare, $120,000 to the Film and Television Institute (WA), $113,300 to the Southern Aboriginal Corporation, $23,700 to the Trades and Labour Council of WA and $20,000 to Mary Moore for the promotion of WA wildflower artworks.

In addition, $75,316 has been allocated to the Combined Universities Centre for Rural Health, $65,000 to Greening Australia, for native plant-based industry development, $40,000 to the Mid West Development Com-mission for developing and establishing interpretive sites along the Gascoyne Murchison Outback Pathways, and $35,130 to the Shire of Dundas, for the marketing of the Dundas Woodlands Discovery Trial.

Local Government and Regional Development Minister Tom Stephens said the regions were a high priority for the Government.

“The gross regional product per capita in regions outstrips that of Perth by more than 40 per cent,” he said.

However, the increasing level of Government tax breaks, subsidies and grants and their possible effect on development has been questioned by the director of Monash University’s Centre of Political Studies, Philip Adams.

Dr Adams, who painted a rosy picture for WA and its regions compared to other States, wants governments to step away from providing monetary injections into regional areas to prop up populations.

He said it was difficult to determine or separate out the government’s contribution to economic growth and that he felt it could be a situation where the growth rate could be higher as the government might be dampening activity even while injecting funds into projects or providing tax breaks.

“I don’t think it’s a good use of money. I think it’s very bad government,” Dr Adams told WA Business News.

He said he believed the current position where State Governments were competing with each other for sports or commercial activity – while understandable – was a total misuse of taxpayers money.

The WA Government has boosted a number of enterprises in the South West to ease the pain of its reduction of logging in old growth forests. It has also bidded aggressively for sporting events and call centres to be situated in WA.

 “We are investing in the reg-ions’ economic future through record capital works expenditure in our first two budgets, and through funding innovative and diverse projects like these supported by the WA Regional Initiatives Scheme,” Mr Stephens said.

p          See WA Economic Development Guide pages 17-20

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