Goldfields Shires meet Prime Minister to discuss issues following scrapping of cashless debit card

Goldfields Shires meet Prime Minister to discuss issues following scrapping of cashless debit card

The Federal Government has committed $25 million to support communities formerly involved in the cashless debit card trial, including $1.8m for three Goldfields community-led initiatives.

Shire of Laverton president Patrick Hill told the Kalgoorlie Miner he had met Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in Canberra and a range of ministers to advocate for immediate and short-term needs and service gaps.

He said the shires of Leonora and Laverton would need to provide guidelines before the funding would be allocated to projects, and he said he was “very thankful” to the government for that money.

“It does help to alleviate some of the issues and we got up there but we need to set the guidelines on it before I can really sort of pinpoint the project . . . and it’s also got to go to council also as well,” Cr Hill said.

“(The shires of Laverton and Leonora) knew we’re not going to get the cashless card back so what we did, we identified all the issues and that we needed to try and accommodate the fallout of the cashless card leaving.”

When asked what issues he was referring to, he said children going to school with foetal alcohol spectrum disorders, the lack of government services in town and the lack of staff to provide sport and recreation for children, as well as housing issues linked to accommodating providers of those services in town.

“We have 50-odd government services visiting Laverton and they come up on the regular basis doing their job, but then we’re driving up from Kalgoorlie, spend an hour in Laverton and drive back and then they come back the next month or next week . . . we want houses in Laverton to put those people in Laverton so that they’re there 24 hours a day,” Cr Hill said.

“We want at least three people in Laverton and three people in Leonora to carry out sports with the young children to keep them occupied when we need them, vehicles and services to get them to work with our neighbouring towns . . . a lot of our kids are outdoor kids, and what we got to do is accommodate that in the structure of their learning.

“There’s other organisations that want to come into town also, but we haven’t got the housing for them . . . we’ve also put in money to get another 30-odd houses into Laverton built to accommodate the government services,” he said.

Cr Hill said Laverton and Leonora had asked for $5 million each in “urgent funding” , with Leonora also asking for $39m and Laverton asking for $42m for long-term plans for the next four to five years.

“We said to them, ‘Look, this is our wish list, here’s what we want. Would you support us putting a business plan in from both shires to bring back to you for urgent consideration of funding and also to put it into the 23-24 budget for that to be delivered over the next four to five years?’,” he said.

As a result of the Canberra visit, Cr Hill said both Shires had received approval from the Federal Government to put forward a business plan and guidelines to formally request the funding.

“I found this announcement, which was fantastic, lets us kind of start the ball rolling and what we’ll do now is develop a comprehensive business plan and link, and we’ll be also liaising with our local member Ali Kent and Kyle McGinn to be the cohorts and organise State Government meetings relevant to our application to the Federal Government where the State will have to step in and do their bit . . . as well,” he said.

“We’re obviously the first town in from the Lands, and we want to look at Laverton as being the social community hub of the northern Goldfields and help Leonora at the same time providing services to there with housing.”

Cr Hill said he was hoping the business plan would be drafted in the next month.

“They are looking at it favourably . . . I’m sure we’ll get supported in some way anyway, if not all the way,” he said.

“You can’t just go over there criticising all the time if you’ve got a problem — you put up a solution. And that’s what we’ve done and I think that’s surprised government,” he said.

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