Premier says Abrol­hos tourism on Govt agenda

Geraldton Guardian - - Guardian News - Ge­off Vi­vian

The State Gov­ern­ment is draw­ing up plans to de­velop the Abrol­hos Is­lands as a world-class tourism des­ti­na­tion, Mark McGowan an­nounced in Ger­ald­ton on Fri­day.

The Premier said the plan was to de­velop the is­lands while pre­serv­ing con­ser­va­tion values.

“We have set up the aqua­cul­ture zone here at the Abrol­hos and I think there is a big op­por­tu­nity there for the Mid West to cre­ate jobs for lo­cal cit­i­zens,” he said.

“(We will be) pro­tect­ing it to en­sure that its long-term en­vi­ron­men­tal qual­i­ties re­main in place and that’s why we’ve al­lo­cated $10 mil­lion in the Bud­get.”

Mr McGowan said he had told his min­is­ters and their de­part­ments to de­velop pro­pos­als for the pro­tec­tion of con­ser­va­tion, fish­ing, tourism and her­itage values while cre­at­ing jobs and eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties for the Mid West.

He said the Gov­ern­ment would also be­gin work on the cre­ation of an Abrol­hos Is­lands na­tional park.

Mr McGowan said he needed to clear up con­fu­sion cre­ated by WA En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Stephen Dawson and his own staff when they said there were no im­me­di­ate plans for a na­tional park.

“We as­sumed there’d been some work done by the for­mer gov­ern­ment on the Abrol­hos Na­tional Park and it hadn’t been done,” he said. “So Stephen was speak­ing on the ba­sis of the fact there hadn’t been any work done.

“We will be es­tab­lish­ing a na­tional park out there, we’re go­ing to be­gin the process now and we’re al­lo­cat­ing $10 mil­lion to­wards it on the ba­sis of all that work that has got to be done.”

The Premier said the is­lands had the po­ten­tial to be a big tourism draw­card for in­ter­state and in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors. “But it’s cru­cial plans are man­aged the right way, with the pro­tec­tion of the en­vi­ron­ment a key fo­cus,” he said.

Mr McGowan said Gov­ern­ment min­is­ters and their de­part­ments would ex­am­ine the need to im­prove in­fra­struc­ture and ameni­ties, the man­age­ment of marine life and ways to de­liver eco­nomic ben­e­fits and jobs to the Mid West.

He said the de­part­ments of Bio­di­ver­sity, Con­ser­va­tion and At­trac­tions; and Pri­mary In­dus­tries and Re­gional Devel­op­ment were look­ing at ways to ad­dress vis­i­tor ac­cess, vis­i­tor risk and en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact is­sues.

Mr McGowan was in Ger­ald­ton on Fri­day to pro­mote the Mid West’s $80 mil­lion share in the State Bud­get, which in­cludes $18.6 mil­lion to up­grade John Will­cock Col­lege, $10 mil­lion for devel­op­ment of the is­lands and $6.5 mil­lion to re­new the Ger­ald­ton Air­port run­way.

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