Why has the South West received $1 billion less in Royalties for Regions funding in the past eight years than the Pilbara?
This question was put to key members of the Nationals WA with figures from the Department of Regional Development showing the South West received $532.7 million in Royalties for Regions investment between 2008 and 2016. With an estimated population of 175,949 people, this works out to $3,028 per person.
During the same period, the Pilbara received $1.69 billion in investments, or $25,675 per person and the Kimberley $962 million, or $24,799 per person. Only Peel had a lower per capita spend than the South West.
Minister for Regional Development Terry Redman said Royalties for Regions was created to address years of chronic neglect across all regional areas of the state, but that neglect was most severe in the north of the state.
“The vastness of our state represents a huge challenge in delivering services, infrastructure and opportunity to all residents and it is a challenge this government does not shy away from,” he said.
“The South West has benefited from significant Royalties for Regions investment since the program commenced in 2008 with the $600m Growing Our South initiative, the single biggest investment in the southern half of WA in recent history.”
Nationals WA president and candidate for Bunbury James Hayward said Labor Party forward estimates in 2008 forecast a regional investment of $58 million.
“A few years ago there was more work needed to be done immediately in the Pilbara and Kimberley to ensure royalty revenue would be earned,” he said.
“The good news is that work has been done so now the proceeds can be shared in other regions.”
Labor candidate for Bunbury Don Punch said it has been a struggle to get the Liberal-National government to invest in the South West.
“Funding for the South West has been absolutely dwarfed by other regions,” he said. “The government like to talk up their credentials in the region but the reality tells a very different story.”
Member for Collie-Preston Mick Murray said both the Liberals and Nationals are responsible for snubbing the South West.
Bunbury MLA John Castrilli said comparisons between the regions didn’t take into account what already existed or was being worked on before Royalties for Regions came into play.