Busselton Jetty’s Australian Underwater Discovery Centre in limbo as budget blows out 50pc

Taylar AmoniniBusselton Dunsborough Times
Email Taylar Amonini
An artists impression of the Busselton Jetty Villiage development
Camera IconAn artists impression of the Busselton Jetty Villiage development Credit: Supplied

The future of the Busselton Jetty’s new Australian Underwater Discovery Centre has been plunged into limbo as the construction cost estimate blows out by 50 per cent.

The multimillion-dollar underwater observatory centre and food and beverage village has been the latest victim of the pandemic construction storm, with the estimated $32 million budget growing to a forecasted $49m. Construction on the museum was expected to start this month, with a planned opening for December 2022, however the announcement thrusts the timeline into disarray. The budget blowout was announced at Busselton Jetty Inc’s annual general meeting last night, with chair Barry House expressing his disappointment to members, the public and the VIPs in attendance.

“It seems like we have been hit twice, once by the impact of international and interstate borders closing for COVID and now again with massive price increases for steel, freight and labour costs,” he said.

“The AUDC was our plan to kickstart tourism again post COVID at the Busselton Jetty, to ensure that we continued to have enough money from tour ticket sales to fund ongoing jetty maintenance.”

Mr House said the jetty board and senior staff would now be investigating options to see whether the project could still go ahead.

The construction price hike came as contractors Subcon reported a 63 per cent increase in steel, concrete and materials, a 40 per cent increase in labour costs and a staggering 280 per cent increase in shipping costs.

The observatory, which was set to be the world’s biggest natural museum, had received funding pledges of $13m from the Federal Government, $9.5m from the State Government and $4m from the City of Busselton.

It is expected, if the observatory goes ahead as planned, it will attract up to 150,000 visitors in its first year and create 380 local jobs during the construction phase.

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