Kim Chance

Kim Chance

Minister for Agriculture and Food; Forestry; the Mid West and Wheatbelt; Great Southern

    Regional development commissions in doubt under Coalition

    11/01/2005 4:00 PM

    The State Government has challenged the Coalition to reveal its future plans for the State’s nine regional development commissions.

    Mid-West, Wheatbelt and Great Southern Minister Kim Chance says he is concerned by the Liberal Party’s public comments that it could abolish the South West Development Commission.

    “Liberal Leader Colin Barnett has also pointedly chosen not to acknowledge the vital role of the commissions in achieving strong economic outcomes for their regions,” Mr Chance said.

    “He has talked about providing economic development grants directly to local governments, but has been silent on his future plans for the development commissions.”

    In his rural policy speech to the 2003 State Liberal Party conference, Mr Barnett pointedly ignored the commissions and made his intentions clear when he said:
      ‘Local authorities, and groupings of local authorities, will be the first point of reference by a Liberal Government on issues of economic development’.

    “On the one subsequent occasion when he suggested the South West Development Commission would continue, in the same breath he said its role would be reviewed,” Mr Chance said.

    “Two days later, his deputy let the cat out of the bag by admitting to local media that the commission could be abolished.

    “Regional communities that have benefited from the strong advocacy and leadership shown by the locally-driven development commissions have a right to know if they will continue to exist.”

    The Minister said in contrast, the Gallop Government had given the development commissions a level of independence, autonomy and relevance that was unheard of during the Coalition’s previous tenure.

    Each year the Gallop Government has provided the State’s nine development commissions with $400,000 each to projects, festivals or events in the region as part of its $75million Regional Investment Fund.

    “The fund has so far committed funding for more than 400 projects that will result in $166million of expenditure in the regions and creating more than 2,700 jobs,” Mr Chance said.

    “A major part of its success has been due to the regional development commissions and local government has strong, guaranteed links with a minimum of three of the nine board members on each commission.

    “In contrast, previous Coalition Government regional development grant schemes were under-funded and had completely centralised decision-making processes.

    “The Opposition’s current lack of support for regional development commissions is concerning and must be immediately clarified.”

    Minister's office: 9213 6700