The McGowan Government has split over its nasty cuts to regional education with one of Labor’s most senior MPs denouncing the measures.
Albany MP Peter Watson today admitted he and other Government MPs had tried – but failed – to persuade the Education Minister to reverse her closure of Moora Residential College, the raiding of the Agricultural Education Farm Provisions Trust and the abolition of five regional camp schools.
The Nationals Leader Mia Davies said Mr Watson’s comments showed the Labor caucus – and potentially the Cabinet – was divided over the Education Minister’s dismantling of the regional education system.
“Regionally-based Labor MPs, including those Ministers in the McGowan Cabinet representing country electorates, must now declare publicly if the Education Minister retains their support,” Ms Davies said.
“The Member for Albany has belled the cat and if the Minister no longer enjoys the support or confidence of a section of the caucus and Cabinet she must do the right thing and resign.”
Ms Davies and The Nationals WA parliamentary team were out in force today to support the Country Women’s Association first protest in its rich 94-year history.
Hundreds gathered on the steps of State Parliament where the Premier made it clear Labor’s cuts to regional education would not be reversed.
“Despite the protest of some regional Labor MPs, it’s clear who rules the Labor party room – the city members,” Ms Davies said.
“Labor’s country members have failed to convince the Premier of the damage these cuts will impart across regional Western Australia.”
Ms Davies said the Premier did not outline how the savings from the suite of education cuts would assist in repairing the Budget.
“This is an arrogant Government drunk on its own parliamentary majority,” Ms Davies said.
“None of these cuts will do anything to improve the Budget bottom line. It is simply Labor’s way of funding its extravagant Perth election promises.”
Ms Davies said despite just 11 months in office the sense of resentment in regional WA toward Labor’s Perth-first mode of governing was palpable.
“The CWA is a regional institution in this country and did not make the decision to protest today lightly,” Ms Davies said.
“Despite seeing out the Great Depression, a World War and 19 WA Premiers, the CWA has never in 94 years felt the need to protest against a Government decision – until today.
“In less than a year we have seen Royalties for Regions dismantled beyond recognition, while important regional programs such as the Boarding Away from Home Allowance and County Age Pension Fuel Card have been undermined.
“We’ve seen the Community Resource Centre network marginalised and regional teaching positions, including Aboriginal liaison officers, axed.”