WA  rejects criticism of Royalties for Regions
WA rejects criticism of Royalties for Regions

A call for WA to abandon or improve its popular Royalties for Regions program has been rejected by the state government.

The suggestion was made in a report released today by Mannkal Economic Education Foundation, founded by WA mining figure Ron Manners, and fellow right-wing think tank the Institute of Public Affairs.

In a joint report, the groups said RfR had "formalised pork barrel politics on a massive, perhaps unprecedented scale".

The program, which quarantines 25 per cent of mining royalties for regional development, earned WA Nationals leader Brendon Grylls the title of "kingmaker" as he made it a condition of supporting the Liberal Party in the 2008 state election.

"While the RfR program would ideally be abandoned, we acknowledge that it appears set to remain in some shape or form regardless of which political party (or parties) forms government and, accordingly, needs to be disciplined," the report said.

"We believe that the RfR program is not the most efficient means to invest in regional development, as there have been many anecdotes of scrambles to spend the funds while they are available."

But Treasurer Troy Buswell said the program funded projects that had been neglected for many years "and quite simply wouldn't have happened" without it.

"Have a look at what Royalties for Regions is doing in addressing the fundamental failure of governments over decades in investing in regional Australia," he said.

Opposition Leader Mark McGowan has previously said that state Labor supported RfR, but the Barnett Government had set up a formula that rewarded National Party electorates at the expense of other regions.

Report co-author Andrew Pickford said it was important to ensure RfR was administered efficiently as it looked set to stick around for some time.

"If not, there is potential for it to be spent in areas which are not optimal," Mr Pickford said.

The report also called for sunset clauses be added to most new legislation in WA to remove redundant, unused and archaic acts.

The WA Ggovernment in February flagged the introduction of Repeal Day, an annual opportunity for Parliament to remove obsolete acts.

The report said Repeal Day was a step in the right direction but suggested it should be expanded to a week.

The West Australian

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