Balance needed for regional grants: Jacobs

MEMBER for Eyre Graham Jacobs has called for a review of Royalties for Regions funding, saying the program needs to be more balanced in terms of allocations.

This follows Dr Jacobs' call last week for the regional development portfolio to be given to a Liberal member.

Dr Jacobs, along with fellow Liberal MP Murray Cowper, suggested the portfolio be stripped from the WA Nationals in the wake of Brendon Grylls' decision to step down as both Minister for Regional Development and leader of the Nationals.

Terry Redman has since been appointed as Nationals leader but a new Minister for Regional Development has yet to be named.

Dr Jacobs said he believed the regional development portfolio could be shifted to Premier Colin Barnett.

"My suggestion is for the premier to take regional development to fit naturally with state development, a portfolio which he would be most suited and qualified," he said.

Dr Jacobs said Royalties for Regions funding needed to be allocated in a more equitable manner across the state's regions.

"Regional development needs a little more balance now that there have been big spends in the Pilbara and Kimberley to kick start developments which the previous Labor government ignored for years," he said.

"The developments are around accommodation and the Pilbara Cities development and, of course, Ord Stage two and three but now we need to deal with other areas in WA."

According to figures provided by Dr Jacobs' office, the Pilbara region received nearly $888 million in Royalties for Regions funding between 2008-09 and 2012-13. The Kimberley received just over $513 million in the same period. In contrast, the Goldfields-Esperance region received just over $162 million between 2008-09 and 2012-13.

Dr Jacobs also suggested using Royalties for Regions funds on roads and other regional infrastructure items currently funded from consolidated revenue.

"Royalties for Regions is an excellent program and we need to retain the concept but there needs to be a recognition that the regional spend can be roads and other infrastructure including schools, training institutes and projects that are important to strategic development including revitalisation plans," he said.

"Even if services have traditionally been core funded from government, this should be accessed if regionally strategic and key to ongoing development. We should no longer fund community gardens and plastic cows."