Busselton Airport needs its terminal: Redman

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Warren-Blackwood MLA Terry Redman has called on the WA Government to honour its commitment to Busselton Airport.
Camera IconWarren-Blackwood MLA Terry Redman has called on the WA Government to honour its commitment to Busselton Airport. Credit: The West Australian

Warren-Blackwood MLA Terry Redman has welcomed news of direct flights from Melbourne and says the Government now must honour a promise to build a proper passenger terminal.

After weeks of speculation, news was expected to drop today confirming direct east-coast flights to Busselton Airport — and reportedly at prices cheaper than flights to Perth (see Page 8).

Mr Redman said direct flights were “fantastic news” and would drive tourism to the region. But he said WA’s Labor Government must commit to the delayed passenger terminal project to give tourists a proper interstate travel experience on arrival.

“If people have a bad experience, they won’t come back,” he told the Times. “There’s a strong view in our patch, the tourism industry’s doing it tough. (The airport’s) seen as the golden goose.”

Mr Redman said he wanted to hold Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan to comments that a terminal could be built once a carrier was confirmed.

Although Jetstar was reported as saying it did not require a terminal, Mr Redman believed that was a corporate line to shore up WA Government support.

He said Labor had moved to help other WA tourism destinations, but the Government “just won’t get behind” the Busselton Airport.

“Alannah said ‘we’re not to going to do it (build the terminal) because we don’t have a carrier’,” he said. “Now they’ve got an airline. It’s just not on their radar.”

Ms MacTiernan declined to respond to inquiries amid secrecy around today’s expected news.

Busselton Airport Action Group spokesman Steve Hayman said operators would put forward the case for why the terminal should be built at a meeting with Tourism Minister Paul Papalia planned for yesterday, after the Times’ deadline. “Our intent is to ensure they fulfil their promise with a world-standard airport,” he said.

“We’re going to make quite clear we don’t want money wasted ... let’s spend the money wisely and start the construction.” The group formed earlier this year to combat government inaction on delivering the full airport vision.

Mr Hayman said operators were concerned $2 million would be sunk into an existing hangar, a long walk from where planes would land, despite a cleared pad for the terminal site. Mr Redman said money taken from the Gourmet Escape for Perth events also justified the terminal investment and there were practical reasons such as traffic from competing fly-in, fly-out flights affecting incoming passengers’ experiences.

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