Premier says Abrolhos tourism on Govt agenda
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.