State La­bor’s ‘du­plic­ity’ on air­port: MP

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Vasse MLA Libby Met­tam says her Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Act in­quiries about Bus­sel­ton Air­port’s stalled pas­sen­ger ter­mi­nal show “du­plic­ity” from WA’s La­bor Govern­ment.

Ms Met­tam said the doc­u­ments showed the Govern­ment knew the air­port project was un­der way and dif­fi­cult to “un­pick”, de­spite Re­gional Devel­op­ment Min­is­ter Alan­nah MacTier­nan’s in­ter­ven­tion through a bud­get re­view.

Ms Met­tam re­jected Premier Mark Mc­Gowan’s re­cent re­sponse to War­ren-Black­wood MLA Terry Red­man’s own FOI in­quiries in which he said the Govern­ment was “push­ing hard for this project to suc­ceed”.

“It was ev­i­dent that be­fore the value op­ti­mi­sa­tion re­view had even taken place, the Mc­Gowan La­bor Govern­ment was ac­tively con­sid­er­ing al­ter­ing and scal­ing down the (air­port) project,” she said.

“The FOI doc­u­ments make very clear that the min­is­ter’s of­fice was well aware that the City of Bus­sel­ton should be ad­vised of any changes to the ter­mi­nal con­tract, prior to the con­tract be­ing signed.”

Ear­lier this month, the Times re­ported Mr Mc­Gowan scolded Bus­sel­ton chiefs for breach­ing fund­ing re­quire­ments af­ter fail­ing to tell the South West Devel­op­ment Com­mis­sion the ter­mi­nal con­tract was signed with builder Pin­dan.

This oc­curred de­spite the City an­nounc­ing the deal at a tourism func­tion at­tended by SWDC chief ex­ec­u­tive Re­becca Ball, who later said she had no rec­ol­lec­tion of the an­nounce­ment.

Ms MacTier­nan told the Times de­ci­sions about the air­port were driven by $40 bil­lion in State debt “left by the Lib­er­als and Na­tion­als”.

“In the lead-up to the Bud­get, we needed to un­der­stand what was pos­si­ble,” she said.

“On com­ple­tion of the re­view, we made a de­ci­sion to con­tinue with the land­side works. How­ever, we de­cided the fi­nan­cially re­spon­si­ble thing to do would be to work to­wards se­cur­ing an air­line be­fore com­menc­ing con­struc­tion of the new ter­mi­nal.

“The clear ev­i­dence of our com­mit­ment to giv­ing the project ev­ery chance to suc­ceed is that we have kept the al­lo­ca­tion for the ter­mi­nal in the Bud­get at a time when we have had to make some very tough de­ci­sions.”

Ms Met­tam’s “in­abil­ity to grasp that spend­ing $12 mil­lion on a termi- nal that has yet to find a cus­tomer sadly sug­gests the Lib­er­als have yet to grasp ba­sic eco­nomic man­age­ment,” Ms MacTier­nan said.

Bus­sel­ton chief ex­ec­u­tive Mike Archer said the Pin­dan con­tract was now sus­pended rather than ter­mi­nated as the City con­tin­ued dis­cus­sions with air­lines.

“While costs (of chang­ing the con­tract) were ini­tially borne as a re­sult of the de­lay in works, Pin­dan has since agreed to halt any ad­di­tional costs as­so­ci­ated with the sus­pen­sion,” he said.

“These costs were paid through the project bud­get funded by the State Govern­ment.”

Mr Archer also re­jected the Premier’s claim the City breached fund­ing re­quire­ments.

“The City held reg­u­lar meet­ings with all ma­jor stake­hold­ers in­volved in the (air­port) gov­er­nance com­mit­tee, in­clud­ing SWDC, in the months lead­ing up to the sign­ing of the con­tact,” he said.

“All Govern­ment de­part­ment stake­hold­ers . . . had been ad­vised that the City would be un­der­tak­ing ten­der award and con­trac­tor en­gage­ment at some point be­tween Jan­uary 31 and Fe­bru­ary 6, 2018.”

The con­tract was also re­ported in coun­cil min­utes, he said.

Alan­nah MacTier­nan

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