Hendy Cowan

Hendy Cowan


    Coalition invests in future of the regions (with Pic.)

    29/01/2001 12:00 AM

    People living in all regions of Western Australia stand to gain from regional development initiatives announced by the Coalition Government today.

    Regional Development Minister Hendy Cowan said the regions already generated much of the State’s prosperity and it was important that their economic diversity be enhanced.

    The State Government will provide an extra $80 million over four years, through the Regional Development Trust Fund, for programs to attract and retain people in the regions and to encourage new industries and businesses to locate there.

    In addition, Mr Cowan announced a $30 million special capital works program for the regions, to be known as Investing in the Future. It will feature many innovative projects aimed at broadening the economic base of individual regions.

    The Coalition’s regional development strategy has a particular focus on better country health and education services and improving communications infrastructure.

    For the Wheatbelt, where Mr Cowan launched the Coalition’s policy, an action plan will be developed to identify opportunities for the region’s long-term sustainable development. A similar process has already occurred in the South-West, following the restructuring of some of that area’s traditional industries.

    An amount of $12 million, over four years, would go towards implementing the Wheatbelt Action Plan.

    Mr Cowan said the National-Liberal Coalition had developed a strong commitment and clear focus on the regions since it came into power.

    It was the first State in Australia to formulate a comprehensive Regional Development Policy. The policy, released early last year, was unique in that it applied an across-government approach to regional development and service delivery.

    The Government established the Regional Development Trust Fund to help implement strategies contained in the Regional Development Policy.

    “We have always believed the regions are great places to live and that their future is exciting,” Mr Cowan said.

    “Our vision is to develop regional, rural and remote communities that have diverse and viable economies and greatly expanded employment opportunities.”

    In the area of health, the Coalition will expand the Patient Assisted Travel Scheme (PATS) to provide better access to specialist care for rural Western Australians by increasing the payable allowance from 13 to 16 cents per kilometre.

    Up to $8 million will be provided to establish additional Telehealth facilities across the State. A $13 million State-wide Rural Health Service Communications Program will be introduced to support this initiative and to significantly upgrade the necessary communications systems.

    In education initiatives, the Coalition will provide $2 million to establish a WA Centre for Rural and Remote Education. The centre will provide strategic advice and specialist research on rural education issues and needs.

    There will be another $2 million for a Rural Schools Community Grants Program to allow rural students to undertake practical, community-based skills development projects.

    Recognising the particular hardship from adverse seasonal conditions in six shires, the Coalition will introduce special payments, equivalent to the amount of school charges normally paid by parents, to country schools in affected areas.

    Other initiatives include:
    • $10.7 million over four years to establish a Seniors Accommodation Scheme for country areas;
    • $9.25 million over four years to assist local authorities in country areas to build a further 185 homes to help attract more professionals to country towns;
    • $8 million over four years to establish a Residential and Community Headworks Scheme, to offset the cost of power, water and sewerage connections;
    • $5.3 million to create a Regional Tourism Infrastructure Fund;
    • $2.8 million to expand the Industry Relocation Scheme to encourage businesses to move to the bush; and -
    • $7 million towards appointing 60 community development officers in regional areas, in partnership with local governments, to provide increased support for young people.

    Mr Cowan said better telecommunications was becoming increasingly important to country people.

    The State Government has already introduced the State-wide Telecommunications Enhancement Program (STEP), which used the Government’s big service provision requirements to get a more competitive deal from Telstra and Optus for regional areas. Further competition would be encouraged through other service providers.

    Earlier in the election campaign, the Government announced that the State, Commonwealth and Telstra would contribute $21 million to greatly improve mobile phone coverage in the South-West land division, stretching from Kalbarri to Esperance, with subsidies available for people in other regional areas to access satellite phone services.

    Mr Cowan said the Coalition would also continue the expansion of the Telecentre Network, to provide greater access to modern communications equipment in smaller country centres. So far, 81 Telecentres have been established through Government and community initiatives.

    Country towns across the State would also benefit from the expansion of the Mainstreet, Small Town Economic Development Planning and Townscape programs, aimed at increasing their attraction and viability.

    Specific regional projects which will be advanced under the $30 million Investing in the Future capital works program are:

    • the establishment of a power supply for the town of Coral Bay;
    • provision of storm surge protection for the town of Carnarvon;
    • planning for a Community Resource Centre in the town of Denham; and -
    • planning and development of the Shark Bay World Heritage Centre.

    • redevelopment of the Ravensthorpe Recreational Centre for community purposes;
    • planning and detailed design for the Esperance Kepa Kurl Discovery Centre; and -
    • support for the Esperance Community Nursing Home.

    Great Southern
    • further development of the Whaleworld tourism and heritage project;
    • plan, design and service the site of the Stirling Range Visitor Interpretative Centre at Bluff Knoll; and -
    • plan and develop the Yongergnow Malleefowl Interpretative Centre at Ongerup.

    • the planning and development of the WA Rural Industries Hall of Fame in Derby;
    • the development of an Aboriginal Interpretative and Arts Centre at Broome;
    • infrastructure planning associated with the Wyndham Prawn Farm; and -
    • infrastructure planning associated with tourism, recreation, fisheries; and aquaculture at Lake Argyle.

    • the development of a Common User Slipway in Geraldton;
    • planning for the establishment of a university to service the Mid-West;
    • the establishment of a Regional Development Commission office in the Murchison; and -
    • support the establishment of a Marine Education Training and Research Centre for the Mid-West in Geraldton.

    • finalise planning and develop the Pinjarra Rail Heritage centre; and -
    • prepare and implement a strategy for the revitalisation of the town of Pinjarra.

    • development of a Recreational Boating Terminal at Dampier to service the Dampier Archipelago;
    • enhancement of the Port Hedland Port Area Town Centre; and -
    • design and construction of the Onslow Sea Wall.

    • fully implement the Warren Blackwood Action Statement;
    • finalise planning and develop the Glen Iris Service Corridor and Relief Floodway; and -
    • support the establishment of an Industrial Heritage Trail which will promote inland tourism within the South-West targeting Harvey, Dardanup, Collie and Warren Blackwood towns.

    • groundwater investigations for the Beverley-Brookton area;
    • progress the Aquafeed project that will undertake research into the potential of an aquaculture industry based on salt lake biota;
    • implementation of the Wheatbelt Development Strategy and Action Plan; and -
    • support the establishment of a Farmers’ Hall of Fame in Narembeen.

    Media contact: Peter Jackson 9222-9595

    Coalition invests in future of the regions
    Deputy Premier Hendy Cowan announces details of the State Government's regional development strategy at the launch in Narrogin.