Barnett asks PM for $350m

Colin Barnett has asked Tony Abbott for $350 million to complement WA's record $1.3 billion native title settlement over the South West.

The Prime Minister's response will either put more pressure on the cash-strapped Federal Budget or strain Canberra-WA relations frayed by the GST stalemate.

In January 2012, Mr Barnett savaged the Gillard government for walking away from a Keating-era in-principle agreement that the Commonwealth fund 75 per cent of State native title claims.

"To simply walk away from this has disappointed me more than any other act by a prime minister in my political life," the Premier said.

Asked in May by State shadow treasurer Ben Wyatt whether the new Federal Government would help fund native title, Mr Barnett said it had a "moral duty" to and revealed he had written to Mr Abbott. That letter, obtained by Mr Wyatt under freedom of information laws, reveals the Premier requested $350 million over 12 years for the South West's Noongar people.

The December letter asked for $200 million for the Noongar Boodja Trust investment fund, to which the State is contributing $600 million, and $48.5 million for the South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council.

It also requested the Commonwealth match the State's contributions of $50 million for social housing and $48.85 million for land management. A spokesman for Federal Attorney-General George Brandis said discussions with the WA Government were "ongoing and confidential".

Mr Barnett said yesterday successive Commonwealth governments over the past 20 years had failed to reach agreement on State and Territory native title funding and it was an "ongoing matter". "However, we have asked the Commonwealth for a minimum commitment of $350 million in addition to the State's contribution in recognition of the fact that it is a settlement of national significance," he said.

Mr Wyatt said Mr Barnett had demanded the Gillard government supplement three-quarters of the State's offer rather than complement it by one-quarter.

Although the latter would likely lead to a bigger settlement for the Noongar people, "you can't have moral outrage under one government and acquiescence under another", he said.

The West Australian

Popular videos

Compare & Save

Our Picks

Compare & Save

Follow Us

More from The West