Vasse MP Libby Mettam criticises Local Projects for Local Jobs as abandoning regional WA

Premier Mark Mcgowan. Image by Richard Polden.
Premier Mark Mcgowan. Image by Richard Polden.

Vasse MP Libby Mettam labelled the state government’s Local Projects, Local Jobs scheme as a smoke screen for distributing funds to buy votes.

Ms Mettam said the scheme was a “blatant abuse of tax payers’ money."

Over the weekend it was revealed that funding from the Local Projects Local Jobs program heavily favoured seats Labor retained, as well as Liberal and National seats Labor took at the last election.

It was found that the average spend in Labor held seats was $454,189 and in Labor gain seats $540,636 compared to $84,000 in Liberal or National seats, according to Ms Mettam.

“Vasse has received nothing. This pork barrelling exercise is made worse by the fact that the funds are being taken away from core government functions such as education, mental health and other front-line services.”

Recently, Busselton-based mental health organisation Lamp was advised by the state government that funding for its National Partnership Agreement Homelessness Program would be cut due to “budget saving measures.”

“Lamp helps high-risk people who have been diagnosed with a mental illness and are, or have recently been in hospital to find housing,” Ms Mettam said.

“The State Government’s $78,000 annual commitment to the service will cease in June 2018.

“Clearly this Government sees funding for dog fences and town centre upgrades are a higher priority for the McGowan Government.”

Ms Mettam added that junior sport in Vasse were also under significant pressure in terms of facilities with basketball clubs having 1700 people wanting to play.

“Due to limited court space they have had to cap nominations at 1100 players. In other words 650 players are not be able to participate,” she said. 

“We are also the only centre in regional WA that has two swimming clubs and no 50 metre swimming pool.”

Premier Mark McGowan dismissed criticism in a statement to Fairfax Media with a spokesperson from his office stating, “These were our election commitments, plain and simple.

“Just like any other election commitment made by other political parties across WA.

“We will not be getting into a running commentary on funding requests from election candidates.”

Warren Blackwood MP Terry Redman said he was outraged the state government “lavished” almost $15 million worth of election promises on Labor held Perth seats while his electorate received nothing in the scheme.

Mr Redman said the figures, revealed by media over the weekend, confirmed what many regional Western Australians already suspected about the McGowan Government – if you don’t live in Perth you don’t matter.

“At the same time Mark McGowan is closing camp schools and raiding funds from the Agricultural Education Farm Provisions Trust, his Labor Government is splashing cash across the metro area, with $14.8 million spent in 34 Perth seats in just eight months,” he said.

“The priorities for this Labor Government are seriously out of whack when you consider they spent $120,000 on two new Perth dog parks, yet the bush is having core services such as education and health slashed across the board.”

Mr Redman said since Labor had come to power there had been a systemic abandonment of regional WA.

“The dark old days of pre-Royalties for Regions have returned,” he said.

“Royalties for Regions is now a shell of the proud program it once was, with money earmarked for country areas being redirected back to the city and Labor’s unfunded election promises.

“From recent reports it would appear the McGowan Government’s number one priority is to feather the nest of the party’s Perth MPs in order to secure enough city votes to win the next election.”