Regions benefit from Grylls’ determination

25/03/2009 - 22:00


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THE Royalties for Regions scheme couldn't have come at a better time for the state's rural areas, with the list of infrastructure projects being developed helping cushion the regions from the worst of the economic downturn.

Regions benefit from Grylls’ determination

THE Royalties for Regions scheme couldn't have come at a better time for the state's rural areas, with the list of infrastructure projects being developed helping cushion the regions from the worst of the economic downturn.

When the Liberal-National government came to power in September last year, Nationals leader Brendon Grylls orchestrated the Royalites for Regions scheme to benefit country areas.

Holding the balance of power, Nationals WA had the choice of forming a government with either the Liberals or Alan Carpenter-led Labor.

As history will record, the Nationals went with the Liberals and the Royalties for Regions scheme was launched soon after.

Now Regional Development Minister, Brendon Grylls says the Royalties for Regions scheme represents an exciting new era for investment in regional development in WA.

Under the scheme, the equivalent of 25 per cent of WA's annual mining royalties will be made available for regional infrastructure, services and capacity building projects.

When launching the scheme last December, Mr Grylls said three funds were established to implement the important principles that underpin the initiative.

"The first of these is the Country Local Government Fund," he said.

"I am very proud to launch this fund, which will ensure that regional local governments are provided with the means to invest in new and existing local infrastructure.

"$100 million will be provided in this financial year. This will form part of an overall investment of $400 million over the next four years to help local government improve their ability to help their communities grow and be sustainable."

While the recently signed development agreement for the Oakajee Deepwater Port, 25 kilometres north of Geraldton, tops the list in terms of cost for projects found in regional areas, the Ord River Irrigation Scheme has been the big winner to date.

Mr Grylls said as part of the Royalties for Regions initiative, stage two of the Ord River scheme would receive $220 million over the next four years, supported by $195 million over the next two years from Canberra.

"The Regional Infrastructure and Headworks Fund will stimulate regional development through investment in a variety of major infrastructure projects," he said.

"These will include the Ord Stage Two extension - a major strategic project that builds a future for the north."

The Regional Infrastructure and Headworks Fund will also provide funds for additional houses for workers, the upgrading of regional airports as well as developing a Bunbury to Albany gas pipeline.

Moving away from the Royalties for Regions scheme, country WA is set to benefit from a range of other infrastructure projects currently under way or committed to.

Construction works on a new multi-user bulk minerals export berth at Utah Point in the Port Hedland inner harbour officially started less than two weeks ago.

Dredging of the 300 by 60 by 14-metre-deep berth pocket at Utah Point was completed in May 2007 and approval of the $225 million development was received in October 2007.

However, the Utah Point project, which includes the common-user berth and related infrastructure, only received environmental approval at the start of this month.

The West Kimberley Regional Prison in Derby was given the green light in December following an additional $57 million in funding from the state government.

Attorney-General Christian Porter said the $150 million project would ease the critical shortage of suitable prisoner accommodation in the region.

"The original budget of $93 million was insufficient, due to cost increases for building in the Kimberley," Mr Porter said.

"The revised budget also allows for 150 beds as opposed to the 120 originally planned under the previous Labor government, and takes into account significant increases in the overall prison population, including prisoners from the Kimberley."

Mr Porter said Aboriginal communities across the Kimberley would contribute the design and delivery of effective rehabilitation programs.

And the construction of the $54.5 million Muchea Livestock Centre has commenced.

Premier Colin Barnett said the original cost of the facility ballooned from $11million in 2003 to $32 million in 2006 under the Carpenter government and had now reached more than $50 million.

"These saleyards are an important investment in what is a vital sector of the Western Australian economy and will help secure the future of the industry for decades to come," Mr Barnett said.

"This will get the meat and livestock industry out of the Midland Saleyards, which have been operating for more than 90 years and the current condition of which can only be described as an absolute disgrace.

"This decision will allow redevelopment of the site, taking advantage of the rapid growth of the Midland area and in turn creating additional employment."

And just last week, Mr Grylls announced plans for LandCorp to establish a new $35 million service and supply base at the Australian Marine Complex at Henderson.

Chevron Australia will become its first customer, in order to support operations for the Gorgon Project located about 150 kilometres off the state's north-west coast.

"The Gorgon project is based on Australia's largest known natural gas resource and is expected to deliver billions of dollars in taxes and royalties," Mr Grylls said.

To be developed by LandCorp, the service wharf will accommodate roll-on/roll-off vessels along with a 4.4-hectare staging area located within the AMC common user facility.

Construction is expected to begin in the second half of 2009 and is due to be completed by early 2010.


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