Nats defend R4R projects

Tom ZaunmayrPilbara News
VideoTake a peak inside Exmouth's Ningaloo Centre, which is set to open later this year.

The WA Nationals have defended Royalties for Regions investments in the Pilbara and Gascoyne as the State Government prepares a probe into alleged financial risk, secrecy and lack of benefits of several major projects in the region.

Former under-treasurer John Langoulant will head the McGowan Government’s Commission of Inquiry into contracts and projects of the former Liberal National Government.

The inquiry will probe 26 projects under the previous government, including investment in Pilbara accommodation, the Pilbara Underground Power project, Ningaloo Centre, Bulgarra regional sports complex, Wanangkuru Station and Karratha Health Campus.

State Premier Mark McGowan said West Australians deserved to know how the previous government had accumulated a large Budget deficit.

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“The Liberals and Nationals refused to answer simple questions about how taxpayers’ money was being spent,” he said.

“We need to get to the bottom of these deals and the Commission of Inquiry will answer these questions. It will bring a high level of scrutiny, transparency and accountability to a series of decisions and projects of the former government.”

North West Central MLA Vince Catania said if Labor wanted to be critical of the Ningaloo Centre, it should not put its name on the plaque when the centre opens.

“It is Labor’s job to dig up as much dirt as possible to be able to kill off Royalties for Regions,” he said.

“I hope the commissioner can open (the Ningaloo Centre) for the people of Exmouth to have a look at it before it officially opens, so people can understand why a project of that magnitude has been built.

“I stand proudly as a Nationals member next to every Royalties for Regions project delivered.”

Mr Catania said Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan should consider handing the ribbon-cutting scissors to himself on the centre’s opening day, given she had been critical of the project.

Treasurer Ben Wyatt said Mr Langoulant’s experience meant he was well placed to probe the integrity of decision-making processes. He will produce a final report by October.

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