The Government’s travelling caravan of grants and soft loans is continuing to the West Coast tomorrow with the bequeathing of $140 million of taxpayer funds that raises more questions than answers, Economic and Regional Development spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“All the recipients of these funds will be happy and we wish them all the best but all this largesse won’t make up for the economic impact of this Government closing off 85 per cent of land on the West Coast to mining.

“The Greens policy being driven by Eugenie Sage to stop all mining on the vast areas of stewardship land that are under scrub with low conservation values is the most significant policy relating to regional development and it is wholly negative.

“The Prime Minister and the Regional Development Minister will announce which projects they’ve chosen to back as winners. It includes a soft loan for Westland Milk Products, which must be at a rate no bank was willing to offer.

“The Government and taxpayers shouldn’t be taking on the role of a bank, especially one that is directly controlled by Ministers. It will rebrand $45 million of the broadband rollout to boost fibre investment as a PGF initiative.

“Of course we welcome confirmation that fibre and broadband will continue to be rolled out on the West Coast. Road and rail are again targeted for investment, arguably for spending where there was already broad commitment, along with a wellness centre.

“It is frankly a dangerous power to give to any Government, the ability to spend billions of dollars on projects in the provinces that aren’t transparent enough to show whether politics is one of the threads behind the press releases and public relations hoopla.

“This reminds us yet again how confused the Government is when it comes to regional development. One part of the Government is making it much more difficult for people on the West Coast and another part arrives doling out cash.”

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