The Greens (WA) are hoping for a sound result for regional communities when treasurer Ben Wyatt hands down the 2018-19 Western Australian State Budget on Thursday, May 10.
Greens (WA) MLC for the South West and finance spokesperson, Diane Evers, said there needed to be a focus on regional development to keep rural communities alive.
“I am very keen to see how Labor is looking at the regions,” she said.
Ms Evers said she did not want to see the regions suffer at the expense of big-ticket metropolitan infrastructure projects.
“With the state heading toward $40 billion in debt, we need to focus on services and addressing the needs of the people,” she said.
Ms Evers’ wish list includes strong financial support for Police and Community Youth Centres, Community Resource Centres and various other neighbourhood programs.
Premier McGowan had previously signalled a 40 per cent cut of CRC funding for 2019/20, a loss of $6 million that will make it almost impossible for the centres to continue delivering their current level of service to rural and regional communities.
“It’s not just the CRCs. After the education cuts last year and the report showing how poorly Royalties for Regions was distributed, I expect to see a boost in this budget for regional education, decentralised essential health care and rural fire services,” Ms Evers said.
“This government must invest in the regional areas by servicing the communities and looking after the natural environment. Ultimately, it’s about strengthening regional communities to make a meaningful rural life more achievable.”
Ms Evers said she would also like to see greater investment in agricultural research, particularly in the field of regenerative farming, and a commitment to strengthening the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, which has been decimated over the past ten years by the previous government.
Ms Evers said she would be delighted to see meaningful allocations toward developing Indigenous tourism.
“Indigenous cultural tourism is something Western Australia has to offer that is unique to our state,” she said.
“There are many existing and developing businesses operated by Indigenous people where their culture is the essence of the attraction. Support to encourage greater coordination and collaboration in cultural tourism will benefit WA and act as a positive step in reconciliation.”
Ms Evers also hoped to see some positive measures recognising and addressing climate change, an issue that received scarce attention in last year’s budget.
The Greens (WA) will dissect the budget upon release to assess its fairness, financial wisdom and recognition of the interests of the community.
Greens (WA) wish list
- More funding on regional services and less on unnecessary infrastructure
- Meaningful regional development to improve opportunities for residents
- Recognition through financial support for our natural environment
- Funding to replace cuts to the CRC program
- A thoughtful approach to increasing Indigenous tourism
- Positive action on climate change