MPs claim stimulus thin on details

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Margaret River-based MLC Steve Thomas says the WA Government must release all the details of its stimulus spending immediately.
Camera IconMargaret River-based MLC Steve Thomas says the WA Government must release all the details of its stimulus spending immediately. Credit: Paul Webster

Opposition politicians in the Capes have urged the WA Government to seize the chance to invest in languishing projects and commit to a firm plan to help the South West weather the COVID-19 storm.

Warren-Blackwood MLA Terry Redman, Vasse MLA Libby Mettam, and Margaret River-based Upper House Liberal Steve Thomas have all called for more details on the $5.5 billion stimulus budget announced at the weekend.

The MPs’ call comes as the State Government hedges an investment announcement for Margaret River tomorrow.

Dr Thomas said Labor was playing politics in “trickling out” the proposals, which included stimulus measures already announced.

“That means of the new $2.7 billion in the WA Recovery Plan, only $186.6 million has any clarity today,” he said earlier this week.

“That’s 6.7 per cent of the new money accounted for so far.

“Are we going to see $60m or so in new announcements every day in order to drag the good news out?

“If so, we are in for another 44 days of it.”

Nationals MP Mr Redman called for investment in aged housing, construction of the Busselton-Margaret River Airport terminal, and strengthening of the region’s power supply.

He also listed other projects such as the Margaret River-Busselton Tourism Association’s Karri Bowl project for the Boranup Forest.

“(The Karri Bowl) is a well thought-out approach to tourism infrastructure supporting a broader trails strategy,” he said.

Ms Mettam also flagged the airport terminal and work on the Wadandi Track and the dual-use path from Dunsborough to Yallingup as ideal candidates for investment. Critically, schools such as Dunsborough and Cowaramup primary schools were long overdue for upgrades to cater for increased student numbers.

“These infrastructure projects meet the specified priorities outlined in the State Government’s Recovery Plan document,” she said.

Like the airport, pitching money into the “shovel-ready” Australian Underwater Discovery Centre at the Busselton Jetty would increase visitor numbers, she said.

“The tourism industry lost $3.1 billion and more than 30,000 jobs as six months worth of bookings were cancelled and refunds paid to customers following regional WA travel restrictions,” she said.

Terminal construction would create more local jobs to counter WA’s record unemployment of 8.7 per cent, Ms Mettam said.

Dr Thomas, who is shadow finance minister, said immediate clarity on stimulus plans was “vital ... for industries facing an uncertain future”.

A Government spokesman said Labor would reveal specific actions for the South West soon.

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