PM talks up value of airport

Chloe FraserBusselton Dunsborough Times

Malcolm Turnbull has stressed the importance of the Busselton-Margaret River Regional Airport redevelopment, and broached the topic during a meeting with Premier Mark McGowan during his visit to WA this week.

Speaking at the announcement of $1.5 million of Federal funding for the Busselton foreshore redevelopment (see page 5), the Prime Minister said the airport project was an “important part of the infrastructure here” and would benefit the whole region.

“A better airport will enable the South West to bring in more tourists, send more produce out — it’s going to be vital for jobs in this region,” he said.

Labor earlier this year flagged savings in the vicinity of $10 million to the project, which had more than $55 million committed to it by the previous Liberal State government.

The City of Busselton had identified about $4 million that could be saved through postponing some works, but no final decision has been made.

Mr Turnbull said Labor should honour the commitment made by the previous WA government, and said he’d take it up with with Mr McGowan during their meeting on Wednesday evening.

In a radio interview yesterday morning, Mr McGowan said he had reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to funding the airport redevelopment when he met with Mr Turnbull. However, the Premier said Labor was still casting its eye over projects to see where savings could be made.

“Obviously if there are extravagances around it — going to more expenses — if necessary we’ll look to make savings there, but it will be funded,” he said.

Vasse MLA Libby Mettam said the airport was a “game-changer” for the region and the State, and touted the job opportunities and economic growth that would come from the airport “providing interstate, and possibly international passenger services, which will increase tourist numbers”.

“If the new Labor Government is serious about jobs growth and tourism it will allow the City of Busselton to get on with completing this funded, Government-scrutinised project without further delay,” she said.

South West MLC and One Nation WA party leader Colin Tincknell said he had also pressed the Prime Minister on the topic, and said local governments surrounding the City of Busselton had stressed to him the importance of the project.

“The Busselton airport will bring revenue to this region for many, many years,” he said.

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