Regional development minister Alannah MacTiernan has given the strongest indication yet that she will overhaul the Royalties for Regions program to give it a stronger focus on job creation.
The program, which was first proposed by former Nationals WA leader Brendon Grylls, has invested more than $6 billion in the regions since 2008.
Ms MacTiernan said the incoming Labor government would redirect Royalties for Regions funding to infrastructure that created jobs, such as renewable energy projects.
Ms MacTiernan said fewer “ribbon cutting opportunities” and town beautification projects would be funded.
“Too much of the focus of the program to date had been on amenity,” she said.
“This hasn’t created sustainable jobs in the regions and has left local governments with facilities they cannot afford to run long-term.”
We are definitely interested in renewable energy projects: we see great potential for these to generate jobs.Alannah MacTiernan
Liberal opposition leader Mike Nahan said he would support a “fresh look” for Royalties for Regions.
His party took a policy to the election of redirecting royalties funding to pay for the upkeep of existing projects rather than plowing it into new infrastructure.
Ms MacTiernan said the shake-up would take place during the budget process, but no projects currently under construction would be affected.
However, she said some projects in the Peel region would be fast-tracked.
“The McGowan Labor Government does not plan to change projects already under construction and we will be progressing some small projects that we have committed to in the Peel region very quickly,” she said.
During the March state election campaign, Ms MacTiernan released Labor’s Plan for Peel in Mandurah, which pledged $10 million on the Eastern Foreshore redevelopment project and $20 million for a multi-level car park at the train station.
Figures released by Labor during the campaign showed the Peel region had received only $1153 per person in Royalties for Regions funding, compared to $25,675 per person in the Pilbara and $24,799 per person in the Kimberley.