Newly appointed State opposition leader Liza Harvey has slammed the State Government over the way it has handled several key issues in the Pilbara, including its response to an urgent appeal for repairs to a school and the condition of public housing in a mining community.
During a visit to Port Hedland last week, Ms Harvey said the Government had known about the condition of Hedland Senior High School, flagged by head teacher Bill Mann, for months before taking action.
The Government gave $1.3 million in funding to the school this year and added a $15 million slice of the $250 million royalties settlement the Government reached with BHP in June.
“The Government has been in operation for just over two years — it’s great the high school finally got its funding, but where the Government is failing the community is that it’s taking a long time for projects to get started and for contracts to get tendered out. It’s a fairly slow rate of progress,” she said.
“I would hope now that the funding is in the budget that someone would be driving that project and ensuring the refurbishment of the high school takes place and commences.”
Premier Mark McGowan said Ms Harvey appeared to be the only person in WA unhappy his government had secured a $250 million settlement with BHP on behalf of WA taxpayers.
“As usual, Ms Harvey is trying to score cheap political points while ignoring the facts,” he said.
“The settlement allowed us to allocate an additional $15 million to upgrade the school, on top of the $1.23 million allocated in April.
“This is a good outcome for the community and will deliver substantial repairs that were ignored by the Liberals when they were in government.” Mr McGowan said his government had worked hard to deliver the funding since the maintenance issues at the school were raised.
Concerns about the condition of State housing in Newman had been raised by WA Nationals leader Mia Davies, who described the empty houses as “like a war zone in parts”.
Ms Harvey said the Shire of East Pilbara, BHP and others were working together to try and refurbish boarded-up houses and the government should be playing a co-ordinator role in the effort.