City seeks airport cash shift to arts

Jackson Lavell-LeeBusselton Dunsborough Times
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The City of Busselton are seeking to repurpose State Government funds from the Busselton Margaret River Aiport terminal development to develop the BEACH entertainment complex but it will result in a rate increase.
Camera IconThe City of Busselton are seeking to repurpose State Government funds from the Busselton Margaret River Aiport terminal development to develop the BEACH entertainment complex but it will result in a rate increase.

The long-awaited terminal development at Busselton-Margaret River Airport is in freefall with the City of Busselton looking to shift $9.5 million in State Government funding to develop its arts and entertainment centre.

The State Government has withheld the funds until Jetstar flights from Busselton to Melbourne are proved successful after a three-year run.

The $30.3 million Busselton Entertainment Arts and Cultural Hub project has secured $10.35m in Federal Government funding and a further $10.45m from a low-interest loan taken out by the City.

Mayor Grant Henley said the City had worked with the State Government to explore other funding options to meet the $9.5m shortfall.

“The repurposing of terminal funding is a potential outcome that the City has asked the State Government to consider,” he said.

“The City has suggested that the $9.5m originally earmarked for the terminal construction be repurposed to the BEACH, noting the economic benefit associated with the project, particularly in the post COVID-19 environment. However, it will be up to the State Government to determine if and where the funding will be repurposed,” he said.

Busselton ratepayer Michael Jones said the City was unwisely investing a big sum into a development that was likely to go over budget and did not guarantee immediate profits similar to the Bunbury Regional Entertainment Centre.

“The City claims the BEACH will have in year two over 100,000 visitors each paying $65 per person, but the costs are underestimated, and it could lose $2 million per year based on the same pro rata stats as the BREC,” he said.

Vasse MLA Libby Mettam said it was essential the repurposed funds did not put additional pressure on ratepayers facing the financial burden of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Mr Henley confirmed Mr Jones concerns that construction of the centre could result in a rate increase.

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