Airport fund plea ‘overeager’

Jackson Lavell-LeeBusselton Dunsborough Times
Email Jackson Lavell-Lee
VAsse MLA Libby Mettam has blasted the City of Busselton for it's "overeager" request to redirect State Government funding without assurances it will be spent in Busselton.
Camera IconVAsse MLA Libby Mettam has blasted the City of Busselton for it's "overeager" request to redirect State Government funding without assurances it will be spent in Busselton.

Vasse MLA Libby Mettam has blasted the City of Busselton for “overeagerly” approaching the State Government to repurpose funding previously committed to the Busselton Margaret River Airport.

In a letter obtained by the Times, Ms Mettam wrote she was concerned the City had “overeagerly” approached the Government to repurpose the funds without guaranteeing the money would be spent in Busselton. “There has been no assurance made by the State that the reallocation of these funds will result in any benefit to the Busselton community,” she said.

“I am concerned that the benefits of the project have been overestimated, especially given the current economic circumstances facing the region.”

Ms Mettam claimed the projected number of visitors to the Busselton Entertainment Arts and Cultural Hub was severely overestimated when compared with regional entertainment centres in Bunbury and Albany.

City of Busselton Mayor Grant Henley recently confirmed rate increases had been factored into the City’s long-term financial plan to cover maintenance and operations, but he reiterated that the City intended to freeze rates next financial year. He admitted this week the repurposing of the funding was “risky” and Busselton could completely miss out.

During a community access meeting on Wednesday night, Cr Sue Riccelli gave notice of her intention to make two motions at next week’s council meeting.

One recommends that the council request City staff to reduce the cost of the BEACH to the original forecast of $20.7 million should further funding from the State Government not be forthcoming.

The second suggests the council should lobby the State Government to repurpose the $9.5m of funding to the Busselton Jetty Australian Underwater Discovery Centre primarily, with secondary funding going to the BEACH project.

Speaking at the meeting, Abbey resident Helena Nicholson said the BEACH development was “long overdue”.

“What strikes me is we are the only regional city in Western Australia without a performing arts centre,” she said.

Cr Riccelli reiterated she was not against the development of a performing arts centre but opposed the cost and the scale of the BEACH development.

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