Minister stops short of regional guarantee after funding furore

Regional development minister Fiona Nash was in Pinjarra on Thursday to front the Shire of Murray about her decision to exclude Peel from the federal government’s Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF), but did not leave any guarantee the region would be granted access to the $297.7 million fund.

Campaigning with Nationals MP Colin Holt ahead of the March 11 state election, Senator Nash would only say the decision to classify the Peel region as part of the Perth metropolitan area would be reviewed.

“I’ve said that as with a lot of these big reforms particularly after the first implementation round one, we’ll do a review,” she said.

“We’ve only just closed the first half, the infrastructure stream of Building Better Regions, the second stream, the community investment stream, will close at the end of March, so once that process is finalised, we’ll look to doing a review.

“But I have to say, nationally, when you do large reforms of this nature, it’s always good to get out on the ground and see how they’ve been received and I have to say, pretty much across the country it’s gone very well, but great to be here on the ground and get the local perspective.”

The comments contradict an undertaking given by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to Canning MP Andrew Hastie in December that the region would be eligible for the BBRF, which could have funded major infrastructure projects such as Mandurah’s Eastern Foreshore redevelopment and Pinjarra’s town revitalisation project, along with programs run by non-profits and community groups.

According to a Department of Industry, Innovation and Science website, the BBRF would “create jobs, drive economic growth and build stronger regional communities into the future”.

Funding Furore: Areas on the map in pink, including Mandurah and the Peel region, are part of the Perth metropolitan area and remain ineligible for hundreds of millions of dollars in funding. Image: Supplied.

Funding Furore: Areas on the map in pink, including Mandurah and the Peel region, are part of the Perth metropolitan area and remain ineligible for hundreds of millions of dollars in funding. Image: Supplied.

Murray’s shire president Maree Reid said the meeting between the minister and councillors was positive and constructive.

“Among other topics, the importance of Peel remaining a region was discussed as well as issues relating to Murray’s high unemployment, the plans currently being developed with a number of stakeholders to address the unemployment issues and the opportunities that the Peel region offers in terms of industrial land, agricultural development and tourism,” she said.

“The Building Better Regions Fund was a further point of discussion during which the shire enjoyed a fair hearing from the minister. 

“The shire acknowledges that Round One has closed and that, as with every grant program, it will be reviewed as part of future rounds.”

This story Minister stops short of regional funds guarantee first appeared on Mandurah Mail.