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Wednesday, 13 September 2017
Page: 10239

Mr RICK WILSON (O'Connor) (13:47): I rise today to express my frustration and disappointment at seeing a key Building Better Regions Fund project in my electorate of O'Connor thrown into disarray by a decision of the WA government.

The Great Southern Housing Initiative was on track to construct 79 houses across nine rural shires in O'Connor. These units were to provide housing for the elderly and quality accommodation for those working in the public sector. In these small regional shires, the financial return for private sector investment in new properties is very limited and this has led to a severe shortage of suitable housing. Attracting skilled workers and their families to rural towns takes more than just a generous salary; they need a reasonable standard of housing. And our valued seniors deserve to live in fit-for-purpose homes close to their families in the communities that they have contributed so much to.

It is for these reasons that the federal government saw fit to step in and assist. We pledged $10 million through the Building Better Regions Fund. This is only one of two projects across Australia to receive the maximum amount of funding. That funding was allocated on the basis that the previous government in Western Australia had committed $11 million to co-fund this project. Now, the WA Labor government has decided to withdraw that funding, despite the fact that public housing is a state responsibility and that the entire project is now in jeopardy.

For these nine shires—Broomehill-Tambellup, Gnowangerup, Jerramungup, Cranbrook, Katanning, Kent, Woodanilling, Kojonup and Plantagenet—this is a devastating blow. I call on the Minister for Regional Development, Alannah MacTiernan, to act in the best interests of these Great Southern towns and immediately reinstate funding for this project. (Time expired)