The Nationals WA have slammed the Labor Government’s treatment of Collie as a key reason of why the town has been described as being ‘on its knees’.
Nationals Leader Mia Davies said the government’s focus on the metropolitan area at the expense of regional towns like Collie was shown by the cost-shifting of Royalties for Regions funding into programs that would normally be paid for by government departments.
“Two budgets in and the Labor Government has corrupted Royalties for Regions – it is no longer the program The Nationals fought so hard for,” Ms Davies said.
Ms Davies said while in government, The Nationals had identified Collie as one of nine regional SuperTowns to further develop the community and capitalise on investment and growth opportunities. “One of Labor’s first acts upon coming to government was to scrap SuperTowns,” Ms Davies said.
“We recognised Collie was undergoing rapid and sustained change and the SuperTowns strategy provided a broader view for the future.
Through Royalties for Regions and SuperTowns, we were assisting Collie to grow in terms of population, vibrancy, and liveability – through employment creation initiatives – as well as creating new commercial and industrial opportunities.”
Collie-Preston MLA Mick Murray said Ms Davies’ comments were off the mark, with the previous government not committing any funding to the future of Collie.
“The real takeaway from Ms Davies’ opinion on Collie is that she clearly doesn’t realise that actions speak louder than words,” he said.
“I find it absolutely laughable that in the eight and a half years that The Nationals were in coalition with the previous government, all they could do for Collie was write a report – with no commitment for any funding.”
Mr Murray said the Labor Government had committed $20 million to funding the future of Collie, with $898,000 already handed out through the Collie Futures Small Grants program and a further $18 million available to larger-scale industries to set up in Collie.
“Before I was elected, I made an election promise that there will be a fund set up exclusively for the diversification of the economy in Collie – I was elected and it happened,” he said.
“Since coming into government, we have seen almost $1 million of funding through the small grants program, and recently opened the $18 million industry fund to facilitate large scale investment opportunities.
Mr Murray said patience was needed as work was being done behind the scenes to ensure Collie had a prosperous, long-term future.
“The National Party promised Collie would be a SuperTown, which would have been good if it meant anything more than a wooden sign on Coalfields Highway and more written reports with no real funding commitments,” he said.
“What I want to make very clear is that this is the beginning of a process that will take between five to 20 years.
“The coal industry is still in good shape. However, we must prepare for the longer term going into the future.”