Leader Mia Davies has promised The Nationals WA in government will end the great Labor Royalties for Regions rip-off and return the State’s iconic regional development program to its full potential.
In an address to the Party’s State Conference in Exmouth today, Ms Davies outlined a series of policies The Nationals WA will take to the next election, headed by a commitment to reinvigorate investment throughout regional Western Australia.
“Our priority is to restore the integrity of Royalties for Regions after two-and-a-half years of pilfering by the McGowan Government for projects it wasn’t designed to fund,” Ms Davies said.
“Under our stewardship, Royalties for Regions injected almost $7 billion into 3600 programs and projects, transforming regional communities by filling much-needed infrastructure backlogs and improving services in the bush.
“Sadly since being in the hands of the McGowan Government, the program has been pillaged to prop up Labor’s pet Perth projects, denying regions across WA funding they need – and deserve – to grow.
Under the McGowan Government more than $1.6 billion from Royalties for Regions has been siphoned off to pay for Water Corporation community service obligations ($1.1 billion), fund the orange school bus network ($160m), underwrite TAFE courses ($180m), pay regional education assistants ($35m) and deliver essential remote water and power services ($224m).
Ms Davies told 150 State Conference attendees The Nationals WA would also increase the payroll tax exemption threshold from $850,000 to $1 million.
“This provides a tax break for 1100 businesses across the State, encouraging them to employ more workers, invest in their operations and get WA’s domestic economy ticking over,” she said.
“About 55,000, or 25 per cent, of all small businesses in this State are located in the regions contributing to a $40 billion sector annually, so we are committed to making it easier for them to operate.”
Other policies The Nationals WA will take to the election include a five-year $16.8 million boost for the Boarding Away from Home Allowance (BAHA) and establish the State’s first Rural Health Commissioner.
“People in the bush deserve access to the same level of education and health services as those in the metropolitan area,” Ms Davies said.
“We will provide additional Royalties for Regions funding to make sure students boarding in public residential colleges are not out of pocket for accommodation expenses.
“We will also establish an independent and impartial State Rural Health Commissioner to provide a laser-sharp focus on regional health, who will support the work of key stakeholders and report to Parliament, taking the politics out of this critical area.”