WA regional development minister Alannah MacTiernan has rebuked Canning MP Andrew Hastie after the federal government did not include funding for the state’s Transform Peel project in the May budget.
The Peel Development Commission (PDC) was seeking $19.5 million for the project, which they heralded as a long-term solution to the region’s unemployment by providing 33,000 jobs in Nambeelup by 2050.
But Ms MacTiernan took aim at Mr Hastie when the Commonwealth funding failed to materialise.
“We are extremely disappointed that the federal government has not seen fit to deliver the $19 million federal component for this project, and I’m just amazed at that, given the poor level of Liberal support for WA, you would’ve thought they would have taken some regard for the fact that they need to do something for the people of this region they represent,” she said.
“I wonder whether Mr Hastie might be better spending less time focusing on Tony Abbott and more time focusing on Malcolm Turnbull and we might get a better result.”
Ms MacTiernan said it was “pathetic” that the federal government could find $13 billion for rail and airport projects in the eastern states but not $19 million for Transform Peel.
“When you look at the absolute disproportion of funding we have received in WA, you just have to say Mr Hastie has not been very, very successful,” she said.
Mr Hastie rejected the criticism and said Transform Peel was a state responsibility, which he was happy to support where possible.
“Transform Peel is a state government project and while I was happy to introduce the proponents to Australian Government stakeholders and lend whatever assistance I could, ultimately the responsibility for finding the money falls with PDC,” he said.
“I note there are a number of Commonwealth grant schemes which might be suitable for Transform Peel and I would encourage the PDC to apply.”
The $19.5 million sought by the PDC would pay for an environmental program, the construction of a research facility and part of the Peel Integrated Water Initiative, which would provide farms and businesses with non-seasonal water.
The amount also included $3.7 million for management costs.
The state government announced in 2016 that they would provide $49 million to build the Peel Business Park and to begin work on the Peel Integrated Water Initiative.
The PDC has been contacted for comment.