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Grylls seeks more for the bush
Grylls seeks more for the bush

WA Nationals leader Brendon Grylls has hurled a political hand grenade at the Liberal Party, declaring he wants to scrap the $1 billion cap on the Royalties for Regions fund.

As political parties plot against each other after this week's release of electoral boundaries, Mr Grylls flexed his political muscles and outlined plans to beef up the size and scope of the fund.

Liberal MPs are understood to be furious with the initiative because it has the potential to draw more money from the city to the bush.

Relations between the Nationals and the Liberals have been frosty since the country party reiterated this week that it was open to the idea of forming government with the ALP.

Under the Royalties for Regions Act 2009, 25 per cent of all royalty revenue should be ring-fenced in a fund to be used to bolster living standards in country WA.

The cap, which limits how much can be in the fund, was imposed to stop politicians pork-barrelling electorates.

Mr Grylls said the flood of royalties from the mining boom meant the money in the fund could not be spent fast enough.

The cap meant rural WA would be denied royalty income to which it was legally entitled. Money for a project remained in the fund until the bills were paid, which meant money allocated for projects clogged up the account, he said.

The 2011-12 State Budget shows the annual amount of money flowing though the fund jumped from $254 million in 2009 to $1.5 billion this year.

On June 30, the fund's balance was $670 million.

The idea of expanding the fund received short shrift from Premier Colin Barnett.

"Any matter like that would only ever be considered as part of the annual Budget process," he said.

Labor gave qualified support to the plan.

"Royalties money should be spent more heavily on hard infrastructure such as dangerous roads, water provision and land supply issues in the north," shadow regional development minister Mark McGowan said.

The WA Regional Development Trust argued in its 2010-11 annual report that if less than 25 per cent of royalty income was transferred to the fund in a particular year, there was nothing that would force the Government to credit the fund at a later date.