State reclaims airport $9.5m
The State Government last week advised the City of Busselton the $9.5 million previously earmarked for the Busselton Margaret River Airport terminal upgrade would be “better spent on projects to stimulate the South West”.
City of Busselton chief executive Mike Archer confirmed the City had been unsuccessful in securing the $9.5m to support the development of the Busselton Performing Arts and Convention Centre.
“Given the outcome of the City’s request for State funding for the performing art and convention centre project, the council has withdrawn support for the potential reallocation of the $9.5m State Government funding allocated for the construction of a terminal at the Busselton Margaret River Airport,” he said.
“Council’s previous position, having been advised that the terminal project to complete the BMRA was on hold for at least three years, was that the funding be considered for repurposing to another City project.”
Retaining the funding for the airport development project was the council’s objective, with the municipality now in danger of having the funding removed to fund projects in neighbouring areas.
A State Government spokesperson said the priority for the funding was to support the creation of jobs to stimulate the recovery of the WA economy.
“No decision has been made on use of the funding, however, we remain of the view that it could be better spent on projects to stimulate the South West economy,” she said. “We will continue to work with the South West community on any project ideas they might have.”
Vasse MLA Libby Mettam said there remained an opportunity for the Government to use the funds to support a pipeline of projects to support jobs in the growing Busselton community.
“It’s important to remember what those funds were dedicated for and it is essential both the City of Busselton and the current Labor Government illustrate a strong commitment to the Busselton Airport expansion project, which includes interstate travel as a priority,” she said.
“There is no doubt that post-COVID period will represent an exciting opportunity for domestic travel into this region.”
South West MLC Steve Thomas said the funding would ideally be spent within the City of Busselton.
“I have always maintained the position the funding should have gone to subsidising the trial flights so both the State and the City were contributing to establishing domestic flights to Busselton,” he said.
Mr Thomas said he would support the City attempting to negotiate a subsidy on the trial to “protect ratepayers”.
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