Discovery Centre plans await funds

Jackson Lavell-LeeBusselton Dunsborough Times
An artists impression of the interior of the new Busselton Jetty village glasshouse
Camera IconAn artists impression of the interior of the new Busselton Jetty village glasshouse Credit: Supplied/Busselton-Dunsborough Times, Supplied

South West politicians have thrown their support behind the Busselton Jetty’s Australian Underwater Discovery Centre project ahead of the State Budget announcement next Thursday.

The project, which would be built in two stages, was submitted to the State Government market-led proposal program in May last year and would include a bar and cafe, marine interpretation zone and environmental education space.

Nearly 4000 visitors attended the Jetty over the long weekend with 1093 enjoying an underwater observatory tour despite restrictions limiting capacity to 30 people per tour.

Vasse MLA Libby Mettam said it was important the McGowan Government recognised the Busselton-Dunsborough region in the economic recovery plan and 2020-21 Budget with the AUDC project capable of future-proofing tourism interest in Busselton.

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“The Australian Underwater Discovery Centre at the Busselton Jetty is a shovel-ready project and would be a tourism icon, attracting national and international visitors in the future, also supporting flights to the Busselton Margaret River Airport,” she said.

“The AUDC has $13.5 million in Federal funding and without a contribution from the State the project is in danger of losing the Federal funding.”

South West MLC Colin Holt said the Government’s failure to include the project in the recent WA Recovery Plan was a missed opportunity.

“I believe this new underwater observatory, which will feature underwater dining and a massive viewing area, will be the unique iconic attraction WA needs to generate more interstate and international tourism,” he said.

Busselton Jetty Inc chief executive Lisa Shreeve said visitors were “genuinely disappointed” when staff explained the Village and AUDC had been put on hold but she remained hopeful of Budget funding.

“The AUDC is going to be a game changer for tourism in WA as the world looks to support and visit more natural attractions that give back to the environment and they can feel good about socially responsible travel again,” she said.

A State Government spokesman said no decision on funding the AUDC would be made until the Treasurer released the Budget on October 8.

“To date the proposal is still in the concept phase and further work is required to develop it into a fully pledged project,” he said.

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