SWIT site deal in question

RACHEL CURRYBusselton Dunsborough Times
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A former member of the South West Institute of Technology governing council has told a public meeting of the Busselton City Council the State Government had a deal in place three years ago to locate a new SWIT facility in Vasse.

Laurie Uren told councillors on Wednesday he heard from a member of State Parliament three and a half years ago the State Government had already decided to locate the new facility in Vasse.

“They said the deal had been done and no matter what was done it would be going to Vasse, ” he said at the council community access session.

“It was apparent the deal was done because Vasse lost the hospital.”

Mr Uren was referring to the State Government’s decision to locate Busselton’s new hospital at the existing Mill Road site, rather than at a site favoured by the previous Labor government.

In response to questions from the Times, Training and Workforce Development Minister Kim Hames said Mr Uren should take his concerns to the Corruption and Crime Commission.

Dr Hames said the Vasse site was identified as the preferred location following a comprehensive site feasibility study conducted by an independent consultant.

“Each site that was considered for a future campus was examined and given a ranking to reflect the importance and complexities of each property, ” he said.

“Following the release of the feasibility report, the community had an opportunity to comment on the recommendation. The majority of submissions supported the preferred Vasse location as being central for the community.”

Vasse development joint venture partner Geoff Hanson dismissed Mr Uren’s claims as “absolute rubbish.”

“He’s ill-informed and completely wrong that it had anything to do with compensation for the hospital decision, ” he said. “The independent report found clearly in favour of Vasse as the preferred site.”

In response to questions about whether he had heard these allegations before, Mr Hanson said he was aware of people in the community who were “anti-almost everything.”

Mr Uren said his position on the SWIT governing council was terminated at the beginning of the year and he believed this was because of his objections to the Vasse site.

He added he had 30 years experience in training facilities and was concerned the new campus would be underutilised if located so far out of Busselton city centre.

“The site is small, it’s going to cost millions of dollars just to get the land and there is land owned by the Government which is more than suitable, ” he said.

Mr Uren said he had written to Dr Hames and Vasse MLA Troy Buswell about the issue with no response.

He said he had not considered taking his concerns to the CCC.

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