Call for RfR to fund free show admission

25 Jun, 2015 02:00 AM
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Agriculture and Food Minister Ken Baston.
Agriculture and Food Minister Ken Baston.

WA Labor says a key link to connect the city with the country has been broken with the government's decision not to continue free admission for children under 12 to the IGA Perth Royal Show.

Agriculture and Food Minister Ken Baston said the decision not to fund free entry for children to the Royal Show was made during the budget process, due to the deficit and tight financial circumstances for 2015/16.

"The government will make a decision as to whether to fund children to attend the Perth Royal Show in 2016 as a part of next year's budget process," Mr Baston said.

But WA Labor leader Mark McGowan said the State Government should look at other options for funding the $1.2 million initiative.

Mr McGowan said the RfR initiative could be the "saving grace" in keeping free entry for children to the show.

He said it was important to keep free entry for children to encourage them to understand regional life and agriculture.

"Clearly there has been a boom (of higher entry numbers) with the free admission for children introduced - the Royal Show is expensive, but it's a great event, so if this is cut, I believe fewer families will get to enjoy the show," he said.

"It is very disappointing the government is not supporting the program, the Royal Show and agriculture in general.

"There is a fund called RfR. It has spare capacity.

"If there was a way of putting RfR into that program - I would support that.

"RfR has about $1 billion to spend every year, and $1m is not a major component of that."

Mr Baston said the criteria for Royalties for Regions (RfR) funding is very clear: it is for regional projects or in direct support of regional WA.

"Free entry for children to attend the Royal Show does not come under this funding formula, which is why it has not been used in the past," he said.

"The Royal Show is one of WA's favourite family events, I have no doubt that families will continue to enjoy the show, and it will to grow and prosper.

"I believe families will continue to support the Royal Show as they appreciate the educational benefits that come with sharing agriculture with the city.

"For the cost of entry, families are getting far more than show bags and rides, which are a cost in themselves.

"They are getting an educational experience with pavilions such as Paddock to Plate and the livestock displays and arena events."

Regional Development Minister and WA Nationals leader Terry Redman said decisions on any RfR spending would come back to the cabinet.

"The notion of RfR is to unlock potential in regional WA and we are committed to that," Mr Redman said.

"Any decision we make about spending money comes before cabinet and with a business case to support it.

"We haven't in the past funded entry into the Perth Royal Show, RfR components have only been supporting entry into the regional shows.

"We have to be careful about the focus of where we put RfR resources.

"It is focused on regional WA, there are some examples where there has been a benefit for those in the country even though it might be in an investment made in the city - but I am very careful of that and I need to maintain the integrity of the program.

"The Royalties for Regions Act 2009 specifies that the object of the fund is to promote and facilitate economic, business and social development in regional WA.

"There has been no discussion within government for RfR to fund free entry for kids 12 and under to attend the Perth Royal Show.

"No decision has been made by government whether RfR will continue to fund free entry for children attending regional agricultural shows."

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