Scathing report on Royalties program

Tom ZaunmayrPilbara News
VideoJohn Langoulant delivered his verdict on an array of Pilbara projects funded by Royalties for Regions. This is what the inquiry found.

Royalties for Regions has been dealt a scathing report card by the State Government’s inquiry into government programs and projects, though it stopped short of calling for the program to be scrapped.

The flagship regional development program formed by the former government came under heavy fire from special inquirer John Langoulant over numerous poor or missing business cases, shortfalls in governance and a lack of clearly defined objectives.

The WA Nationals were quick to leap to the program’s defence, claiming parts of the report were misleading.

In his findings, Mr Langoulant said it was evident the program had many shortcomings in governance, strategy and administration.

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“The need to spend the annual allocations made to the fund, rather than govern the achievement of well-targeted and managed projects and programs over considered time frames, was a major mistake,” he said.

“If the appropriate governance, strategy and administration is not in place, this incentive to spend can lead to sub-optimal project selection and a failure to deliver the purpose of the Royalties for Regions program.

“The ongoing rationale for a hypothecated program of the size and scale of the Royalties for Regions program should be reviewed.”

Nationals North West Central MLA Vince Catania said Royalties for Regions was, and remained, the most heavily scrutinised program in the State.

“This report was necessary for the McGowan Labor Government to justify why Royalties for Regions should be cut off at the limb,” he said.

“Anyone who lives in regional WA knows how important Royalties for Regions is, and how important it was to make their lives better.”

“A lot of things don’t stack up in regional WA because you don’t have the population, but should that stop us investing in health, in education, in policing?”

Mr Catania said the onus was on the current government to provide the same level of scrutiny to projects such as Metronet.

The inquiry made 13 recommendations to overhaul Royalties for Regions, including coming under closer scrutiny from Treasury, developing clear purpose and indicators of success, and improved administrative processes.

WA Premier Mark McGowan has ruled out changing the annual $1 billion expenditure cap on the program, but “broadly endorsed” the rest of the recommendations.

Liberal leader Mike Nahan backed the recommendation to end the automatic commitment of up to $1 billion of mining royalties, saying it should no longer operate as a “sacrosanct fund”.

In his recommendation, Mr Langoulant argued the commitment had contributed to destabilising successive Budgets and was no longer viable.

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