The Nationals WA candidate for Forrest
THE electorate of Forrest is home to WA's largest population outside the Perth metropolitan area, but Federal Government investment in the area is long overdue, according to The Nationals WA candidate for Forrest Luke Pilkington.
"I'll fight to ensure Forrest is no longer taken for granted by the Federal Government and increase the investment delivered into the region, particularly in areas such as health, education, telecommunications and agriculture," Mr Pilkington said.
"I'm passionate about securing greater representation for the people of Forrest in Canberra.
"The only way to reverse the GST rip-off, get rid of the backpacker tax and drive greater investment into regional WA is to Vote 1 for The Nationals WA."
After growing up in Albany and having experience as a tradesman, grazier and student in the region, Mr Pilkington said if elected he would focus on eliminating mobile phone and high-speed internet black spot locations to support families, businesses and communities, reverse the GST rip-off and deliver real results for WA in the federal parliament.
"We need to get rid of the government's ill-conceived backpacker tax," he said.
"Our MPs aren't putting WA first, so securing the funds to improve health and mental health services in regional areas, improve our schools and delivering more services to regional WA simply won't happen if we continue with the status quo."
Mr Pilkington said eliminating mobile phone and high-speed internet black spot locations in Forrest would unlock opportunities for primary producers and businesses limited by the lack of mobile connectivity.
"Agriculture and small businesses rely on access to an efficient telecommunications network to remain competitive on the global market," he said.
"The federal Nationals will commit a further $60 million to the Mobile Black Spot Program to identify and eliminate mobile communications black spots in regional Australia.
"This comes on the back of The Nationals WA delivering $85m through Royalties for Regions to build new phone towers in regional WA."
Mr Pilkington said a strong agricultural sector would boost Australia's productivity, jobs and exports.
"The Nationals have delivered a $4 billion Agriculture White Paper that will support jobs growth in the regions, drive export opportunities for agricultural businesses and encourage investment to ensure Australia remains a globally competitive agriculture producer," he said.
"We are delivering significant commitments to the agriculture sector, including a $200m increase in biosecurity funding, $190m for rural research and development for profit, $100m for pest and weed management, a $2.5b concessional loan program for farmers and a $500m National Water Infrastructure Fund to provide future water security for farmers."
Mr Pilkington said if elected The Nationals would streamline Commonwealth financing and concessional loan processing by establishing a Regional Investment Corporation.
He said the corporation would be the single administrator for financing and concessional loans relating to drought concessional loans, the National Water Infrastructure Loan Facility and loans already delivered under the drought, drought recovery and farm finance concessional loans scheme.
"The Regional Investment Corporation would also administer any new financing and concessional loan schemes," he said.
"The commitment is consistent with the Federal Government's approach to deregulation and improving public sector efficiencies."
Mr Pilkington said access to quality health and education were at the core of building sustainable and resilient regional communities where people want to live and work in Forrest.
Mr Pilkington said rural, regional and remote Australians deserve better access to medical professionals and believed this policy would help deliver that.
Mr Pilkington said The Nationals had announced a $152m package to help improve access to educational opportunities for regional students.
"We cannot put a university in every town or a high school on every corner of our nation, but we can put policy settings in place to ensure regional people can get greater access to education that will support their future," he said.
If elected Mr Pilkington said he would deliver on the $9.78m funding pledge made by deputy leader Fiona Nash to support the expansion of the Busselton-Margaret River airport.
Mr Pilkington said this would open opportunities for the South West's agriculture, horticulture and wine-making regions to access new and developing export opportunities in international markets.
Mr Pilkington said The Nationals supported the live export industry and would work to ensure the industry remains viable while improving welfare outcomes for Australian animals.
"The Nationals will commit $8.3m to ensure the complete implementation of the Livestock Export Global Assurance program," he said.
"The program is managed by industry and is under trial.
"It is intended to work with the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System framework to better protect the welfare of animals by ensuring comprehensive animal assessment."