Recovery funds snub for Busselton
South West MLC Adele Farina has criticised her own Labor Government over its $252.3 million South West Recovery Plan, describing the package as “disappointing”.
“The South West region extends beyond the seats of Bunbury and Collie, and while some funding has been made available to the Warren-Blackwood towns of Bridgetown, Pemberton and Margaret River, the seat of Vasse has been overlooked,” Ms Farina said.
She said the need for economic stimulus in Busselton was significant considering 45 per cent of businesses were reliant on JobKeeper. “Many people working in retail and hospitality have lost their jobs,” she said.
“A lack of affordable housing is a significant problem for those who have lost their jobs, with many facing homelessness.”
The plan focused on construction, manufacturing, tourism, hospitality, renewable energy, education and training, yet only Busselton’s South West Regional Tafe and Yallingup’s Rabbit Hill carpark will benefit.
Vasse MLA Libby Mettam said ignoring Busselton, one of the biggest regional cities in WA, was an “insult”.
“Not only did we see nothing in this COVID response but this Government has the audacity to suggest that they will be ripping funds from the airport and repurposing them across the South West,” she said. “These are all worthwhile projects, but how a Premier can simply ignore the needs of an area, especially when the whole State is suffering from the same pandemic is beyond me.
“These are not Labor party funds, these are taxpayer funds and it is only fair that the economic response to COVID has a reach beyond political interests.”
City of Busselton Mayor Grant Henley said the City was disappointed that the Busselton Margaret River Airport, Busselton Jetty Australian Underwater Discovery Centre and Busselton Performing Arts and Convention Centre were snubbed.
“Other recreational and community projects submitted for consideration for post COVID-19 stimulus funding, as requested by the South West Development Commission, have also it seems been overlooked within our fast growing municipality.” he said.
“We will continue to strongly advocate for a fair share of recovery funding from the State Government for our community and will be looking to take this up directly with the Premier.”
Shadow regional development minister Steve Thomas said the announcement came with a “re-badging” of projects already committed to the region.
“This $253 million isn’t new money being announced, a majority of this funding has been on the table anyway,” he said.
“Effectively Busselton has missed out and its a political statement more than a economic one and its obvious Busselton isn’t a priority for this government.”
Mr Thomas said a long term tourism plan should have announced to provide the sector with security.
“We need a plan to get tourism from interstate to the South West with destination marketing. If you don’t start planning for next year now we’re behind the eight-ball.”
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