MP slams funds snub for airport

Jackson Lavell-LeeAugusta Margaret River Times
Libby Mettam MLA says the State Budget should have helped activate the Busselton-Margaret River Airport.
Camera IconLibby Mettam MLA says the State Budget should have helped activate the Busselton-Margaret River Airport.

Vasse MLA Libby Mettam has blasted the Premier for neglecting Busselton in the State Budget last week.

With Jetstar flights available online, Ms Mettam said she was disappointed $9.5 million previously committed to the expansion of the Busselton Margaret River Airport was not confirmed.

“We are yet to see a clear commitment from the McGowan government for the Busselton Margaret River Airport project, which is disappointing given the opportunity that this will bring post-COVID,” she said.

“It is not just that the State government is turning its back on the region but it is very short sighted to not see the value of investing in its future growth. Let’s not forget the South West is renowned as the most popular destination outside Perth and as a result many businesses have already invested in this region.”

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A Jetstar spokesperson said the airline continued to monitor border restrictions and demand across the country and adjusted its schedule accordingly, however, they did not guarantee refunds for those who had bought tickets available in December.

“Prior to the coronavirus impacts, we saw strong demand for this route and we remain committed to operating the service once border restrictions ease and travel demand bounces back,” the spokesperson said.

Flights from Busselton to Melbourne are currently $189 and Ms Mettam said with high interstate crowds expected after COVID-19 the State had to commit the $9.5m to the South West.

“This is not a Premier for all of Western Australia,” she said.

“It is disappointing to see the McGowan Government once again turn their backs on the people in one of the fastest growing region’s in the State and the most popular tourism destination outside of Perth.

“The community has every right to feel angry about this lack of investment, given this is about our growing region’s community needs.”

Premier Mark McGowan said the Budget included “major investment” in the South West but described works on the Margaret River main street and funding for the Bunbury Hospital redevelopment and Bunbury Outer Ring Road.

“Every household in the region, including in Ms Mettam’s electorate, will receive a $600 credit on their electricity bill,” he said. “The region will also benefit from the 800 additional police officers announced last week.

“The Liberals will always be negative. It’s important to note that even though the State election is less than five months away, they have not announced any policies or ideas for the South West.”

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