Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Where state government royalties should be spent

The majority of the proposed Fremantle rates rise is to cover increased costs associated with the Canning Vale recycling plant. I accept the argument by Martin Anda (Fremantle Herald, Thinking Allowed, 8 August 2009) that we can and must shift to a comprehensive system of recycling, re-use and composting. We can’t dodge this cost by returning to the bad old days of dumping everything in landfill.

However achieving this shift across the whole of greater Perth, where the majority of the state’s population lives is a huge job; comparable to running water or electricity infrastructure. Certainly it’s bigger than council budgets and council politics. I believe the state government should be helping fund this transition. No doubt they would cry poor, but this is why the dubious Liberal-Nationals “royalties for regions” policy needs to be put under the spotlight. Projects should be funded on merit, whether they’re in the bush or the city.

Ironically the “royalties for regions” money will not be used to buy back and repair our rural rail network which is collapsing as a consequence of its privatisation by a previous conservative government, even though saving this network was one of the Nationals’ election promises. At the same time worthwhile city projects like recycling plants are also excluded. This surely shows up the pork-barrelling nature of the whole thing. Instead of their bogus “royalties for regions”, we need to press for “royalties for re-use, recycling, railways and renewable energy”.

Sam Wainwright

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