Fes­ti­val in need of re­design

Augusta Margaret River Times - - Front Page - War­ren Hately

Tourism Min­is­ter Paul Pa­palia has blasted Capes pol­lies for “talk­ing down the re­gion” af­ter they voiced on­go­ing dis­quiet about the re­design of the Mar­garet River Gourmet Es­cape.

The WA Gov­ern­ment re­leased its promised re­quest-for-pro­posal doc­u­ment last week­end, list­ing a who’s who of Mar­garet River stake­hold­ers in­volved in giv­ing feed­back on the event as it has been run by IMG Culi­nary dur­ing the past six years.

But few or­gan­i­sa­tions were will­ing to dis­close de­tailed views to the Times for fear of wreck­ing the process — the same claim Mr Pa­palia al­leged against MLAs Terry Red­man and Libby Met­tam.

“I’m get­ting pretty ag­gra­vated by their ill-in­formed pub­lic com­men­tary,” he told the Times.

The lo­cal mem­bers have ex­pressed wor­ries about Mar­garet River los­ing out due to re­ports of the Es­cape in­clud­ing a ma­jor Swan Val­ley com­po­nent, with the fes­ti­val likely to be split across two week­ends.

“It could re­sult in a di­lu­tion of the Mar­garet River event,” Mem­ber for Vasse Ms Met­tam said.

Al­though the min­is­ter said a “re­fresh” of the fes­ti­val was due any­way, War­ren-Black­wood Mem­ber Mr Red­man said La­bor looked to be us­ing the re­design as an ex­cuse to cut fund­ing to the sec­tor and feared Mar­garet River would be the poorer for it.

“I can’t see how Swan Val­ley is go­ing to have iconic ap­peal as Mar­garet River. What’s the pay­off ?” Mr Red­man said.

“(Due to con­fi­den­tial­ity), no one is ever go­ing to know if the (fund­ing) pack­age is less or more.

“I’d be very sur­prised if there’s not a cut in fund­ing.”

Mr Pa­palia said the crit­i­cism was “reck­less”.

“I’ve said re­peat­edly a move to make things a big­ger new at­trac­tion and much more ben­e­fi­cial for the State, and (Mr Red­man’s fund­ing) claims are ill-in­formed and can be dam­ag­ing,” he said.

The min­is­ter said the fi­nalised re­design of the fes­ti­val would not be known un­til at least next month.

He also dis­missed con­cerns the Mar­garet River re­gion would be side­lined by the re­jig.

“We are go­ing to use this as a tool to bring more peo­ple to the State. I don’t un­der­stand the neg­a­tiv­ity around this,” he said.

Tourism Coun­cil of WA chief ex­ec­u­tive Evan Hall said the Es­cape needed an over­haul be­cause it had not de­liv­ered on vis­i­tor num­bers and the South West tourism sec­tor needed greater ben­e­fits from lim­ited fund­ing. IMG Culi­nary de­clined to com­ment.

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