February 8, 2018

Government raid of Trust must be reversed

The State Opposition has again called on the McGowan Government to reverse its decision to strip money from the Agricultural Education Provisions Trust (AEPT), as part of measures announced last year to pay for Labor’s unfunded and unaffordable election commitments.

Shadow Minister for Education Donna Faragher made the call following a meeting in Cunderdin with representatives from agricultural college advisory committees, farming communities, local government, the ICPA and CWA.  Mrs Faragher attended the meeting with Member for Agricultural Region, Jim Chown.

“The Government is seeking a short term bounce in revenue to pay for their election commitments but there is no doubt that this ill-thought out decision will have significant and long term ramifications for agricultural education across our State,” Mrs Faragher said.

“The Minister for Education needs to explain her rationale for skimming funds from this important trust, which provides essential funding to our agricultural colleges for farm machinery and vehicles, fencing and other initiatives.

“These colleges help derive revenue for the Trust by selling produce. The least the Government can do is allow those generating the revenue to continue to plough it straight back into their colleges, their students and their farming activities rather than putting it into the consolidated revenue pot.

“The Trust also enables significant financial support to be given to other schools who do not contribute to the Trust directly but who provide important agricultural education programs to their students in Kiara, Kelmscott, Mount Barker as well as other schools located across the State.

“There is no justification for the Minister’s cuts when the reality is the Government is simply raiding the Trust to pay for their election promises.

“The Minister explained away some of her previous ill-thought out policy decisions as rushed and she reversed them. This is another rushed decision made without any consultation or understanding of its impact. The Minister needs to reverse this decision as well.”

Mr Chown said the cut was another example of an attack on regional communities to pay for Labor’s election promises.

“It is taking money away from agricultural colleges in Cunderdin, Denmark, Harvey, Morawa and Narrogin, as well as the Esperance Senior High School Farm Training Centre,” Mr Chown said.

“It is unacceptable to raid this important fund, which is contributing to the education of the next generation of farmers and supporting one of the state’s most important industries, to pay for Labor’s pork-barrelling.”

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