Labor leads funding pledge

Gareth ThomasAlbany Advertiser

A growing disparity is emerging in the number of dollars being committed by each of the three major contenders for the seat of Albany in this State election with the Labor party outspending the Liberals and Nationals combined.

WA Labor leader Mark McGowan and Albany MLA Peter Watson have so far racked up about $113 million in election commitments with almost half of that, $55 million, promised for upgrades to South Coast Highway and further works on the Albany ring road.

Other notable pledges include $20 million on wave energy farm infrastructure, $6.9 million to finish the Centennial Oval redevelopment, $6 million for the Great Southern Motorplex, $5 million for an artificial surf reef at Middleton beach plus $35 million to fund a range of upgrades to every public school in the electorate.

Mr Watson said he was unapologetic about Labor’s commitment to Albany. “I have raised issues around jobs, tourism and dangerous country roads with the Liberal National Government for the past eight years and have received nothing but deafening silence in response,” he said.

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Mr Watson said Labor had a plan to pay for their election promises among them a 20 per cent cut to WA’s highest paid bureaucrats, new land sales, cuts to the number of consultants used by Government and diverting the $1.7 billion in funds earmarked for the Perth Freight Link, which Labor will not continue, into other projects.

The next biggest spenders are the Nationals at $76.7 million, and similar to the Labor party, a significant portion of that money — $45 million — has been allocated to upgrading roads in the region.

Another similarity to Labor is a $23 million pledge to develop renewable energy technologies, including solar battery arrays in Denmark and Walpole and wave energy in Albany.

The Nationals were the first to commit $6 million to the Great Southern Motorplex and have promised $3.3 million for mountain biking and walk trails. Nationals candidate Robbie Sutton would not be drawn into criticism of his political opponents, but said the Nationals were being proactive with their election promises while the others were simply reactive.

The lowest spend comes from the Liberals and their candidate, Greg Stocks, who said he was very comfortable that the promises his party had made were fully funded.

On his sole visit to Albany during the election campaign so far, Premier Colin Barnett committed $10 million each to Albany and North Albany senior high schools.

The total Liberals’ spend of $25.3 million includes $2.3 million for walking and mountain-biking trails in Torndirrup and the Porongurup Range as well as a $3 million artificial fishing reef off the coast of Albany.

Mr Stocks said the Nationals and Labor’s election spending could not be guaranteed.

He said their major commitment of $20 million for the high school upgrades would come from the sale of Western Power, which would be assured if the Liberals won government unlike the Nationals’ increase in the special lease rental rate, which was “not likely”.

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