South West eyes focus on delivery of 2019-2020 State Budget

Stuart McGuckinSouth Western Times
Western Australia state Treasurer Ben Wyatt.
Camera IconWestern Australia state Treasurer Ben Wyatt. Credit: The West Australian, Simon Santi

Eyes will focus on the delivery of the 2019-20 State Budget today to see whether or not there is more money set aside for the South West.

Premier Mark McGowan travelled to the region twice over the past fortnight to make pre-budget announcements.

During a visit to Collie last week Mr McGowan announced $60 million previously set aside to attract biomass and solar energy plants to the town would be reallocated to a broader Industry Attraction and Development Fund.

The fund is designed to attract a broader spectrum of big industry initiatives to the town.

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But both Mr McGowan and Collie-Preston MLA Mick Murray refused to rule out the projects entirely despite a lack of interest.

“This was designed to have a broader appeal than the initial commitment,” Mr McGowan said.

“It is something we will be very flexible with.”

The reallocation of funding was something South West Liberal MLC Steve Thomas said he had been seeking for two years.

“These were foolish thought bubbles that were never deliverable,” he said.

“The Government has effectively rolled the money into the Collie Future Fund for the time being, which at least for now means that it has not been reclaimed by Treasury.”

A plan designed to turn the town into WA’s “premier trail adventure town” has already been allocated $10 million of the new fund. Mr McGowan also announced $500,000 for the refurbishment of Dardanup’s Thomas Little Memorial Hall during the visit.

The expansion of a needle-syringe exchange program into high-demand regional areas including Bunbury was also included in the State’s next stage of its Methamphetamine Action Plan.

Doors Wide Open founder Lina Pugh welcomed that aspect of the plan but was critical of other elements in the plan such as compulsory rehabilitation.

“If someone is using needles at some point they are going to want to get well — if they can come out without any diseases then there will be a better results,” she said.

“Compulsory rehab is an absolute waste of time and money though.

”You can’t get anyone to be clean unless they want to be — building resilience, strength and support for families creates much better outcomes.”

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