Time for Govt to sup­port air­port

Augusta Margaret River Times - - Letters - Libby Met­tam, Vasse MLA

While it was dis­ap­point­ing to hear Tourism Min­is­ter Paul Pa­palia call the Bus­sel­ton air­port plan “a pup”, he did con­firm in­dus­try con­cerns about the politi­ci­sa­tion of the tourism port­fo­lio and high­light the se­lec­tive na­ture of the McGowan Govern­ment’s en­thu­si­asm for re­gional avi­a­tion de­vel­op­ment.

The McGowan Govern­ment has done all it can to un­der­mine the Bus­sel­ton Air­port pro­ject, de­spite con­tin­ued sup­port from Tourism WA, in­dus­try and the Fed­eral Govern­ment.

The pro­ject was re­moved from the two-year tourism strat­egy, funds were cut and con­struc­tion de­layed by over six months as part of an “op­ti­mi­sa­tional re­view”, Tourism WA was with­drawn as air­line en­gage­ment fa­cil­i­ta­tor and fund­ing for the ter­mi­nal was with­drawn un­til an air­line com­mit­ted to the route.

Doc­u­ments ob­tained through a Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion ap­pli­ca­tion show more than one air­line had ex­pressed an in­ter­est in com­menc­ing op­er­a­tions to launch flights from the peak sum­mer pe­riod 2017, sub­ject to run­way ca­pac­ity.

Ex­pan­sion of the air­port to ac­com­mo­date in­ter­state pas­sen­ger flights and in­ter­na­tional freight was iden­ti­fied by the former govern­ment as a key trans­for­ma­tional pro­ject for the South West.

Once com­pleted, the air­port would al­low for di­rect flights to des­ti­na­tions such as Syd­ney, Mel­bourne, Den­pasar and Sin­ga­pore. The City of Bus­sel­ton and the greater Mar­garet River re­gion is the most pop­u­lar in­ter­na­tional des­ti­na­tion in WA out­side of Perth.

Tourism in the re­gion has grown more than 90 per cent since 2008.

It’s time for the McGowan Govern­ment to stop play­ing pol­i­tics and sup­port the South West com­mu­nity’s bid to see this air­port suc­ceed.

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