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Wiluna gives back grant of $900,000

Josh ChiatKalgoorlie Miner
Wiluna’s Club Hotel was bought by the Shire of Wiluna last year.
Camera IconWiluna’s Club Hotel was bought by the Shire of Wiluna last year.

The Shire of Wiluna has returned a $900,000 Royalties for Regions grant to the State Government, forcing it to take loans to fund new infrastructure projects in the northern Goldfields town, 500km north of Kalgoorlie-Boulder.

Wiluna Shire chief executive Colin Bastow confirmed the council had returned the money, awarded in two instalments by the previous Liberal-National government under the Country Local Government Fund in 2012 and 2015.

The money was originally made available to contribute to a new council administration centre but plans for that development changed when the Shire bought the town’s hotel and moved to refurbish it as the new Shire offices.

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development denied council bids to shift the money to the new administration project and a separate project to build staff housing.

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Mr Bastow said he was disappointed but not surprised.

“It’s very disappointing, although in some ways probably not unexpected,” he said.

“We’d still like to have the opportunity to try spend that money in Wiluna.

“We’ll have to engage the minister at some stage to see what we can do in that space but at this stage we’ve got a few things on, so we’re trying to progress the best we can.”

The council also lost out in Treasurer Ben Wyatt’s State Budget in September, when a $60 million funding pledge from the previous Barnett government to seal the Goldfields Highway between Wiluna and Meekatharra was pulled from the forward estimates.

Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan told the Kalgoorlie Miner in October the Wiluna Shire council had not progressed a suitable replacement for its original administration centre project, citing a “lack of planning, costings and business cases” with its alternatives.

“Under the CLGF guidelines, projects were meant to be shovel-ready and local governments were given 24 months to complete the projects,” she said at the time.

“The Shire has not progressed a suitable project in the past six years.”

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