The McGowan Government has revealed its complete disregard for water issues faced by regional communities trying to adapt to an ever-drying climate.
In Budget Estimates today Water Minister Dave Kelly confirmed his Government stripped at least $50 million from programs improving water supply and efficiencies in regional communities.
Nationals WA Leader Mia Davies said $23.5 million cut from Watering WA and $11.5 million from regional ground water investigations would hit dryland agricultural communities and agricultural businesses hardest.
“These programs were designed to make sure regional communities, the agricultural and pastoral sectors had resources to improve water security through a range of innovative measures,” she said.
“Not only has the State Government diminished the ability of regional communities and business to adapt to a drying climate, it has constrained economic expansion opportunities by limiting diversification of industry in the regions.”
The Minister confirmed $15 million has been removed from the Denmark community’s plan to recycle wastewater and take pressure of its scheme. Denmark residents have been subject to Stage 5 restrictions for two of the last five summers.
A reduction in Farm Water Rebate Scheme from $20,000 to $15,000 was also confirmed, corroding incentive for farmers to develop additional on-farm water supplies and reduce their reliance on costly scheme water.
Ms Davies said the State Government’s understanding of climate change was limited to the metropolitan area and neglected the impacts it had on regional communities.
“The Minister has failed to understand the very real impact our drying climate has on regional communities and has short changed them when it comes to solving water challenges,” she said.
Nationals WA water spokeswoman Jacqui Boydell said The Nationals in Government fast-tracked water investigations in response to water issues to support water security, job development and diversification of industry.
“Despite playing out a mantra of providing more jobs for Western Australians, this State Government seems clueless to the opportunity it is throwing away by cutting funding to these important programs,” she said.
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