Subsidy silver lining for many

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times

The Federal Government’s wage subsidy plan might be the only lifeline to keep the Margaret River-Busselton Tourism Association from going into mothballs for the next six months.

MRBTA co-chief executive Steve Harrison revealed the tourism group made the tough decision to stand down about 100 employees this week.

The MRBTA is one of the region’s biggest bulk employers, and Mr Harrison expressed sorrow for the knock-on effect for families across the district.

“The only part of MRBTA business that is continuing to operate is the ground-handling at Busselton-Margaret River Airport to service Virgin flights for Rio Tinto workers,” he told the Times.

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“The immediate impact is that around 100 MRBTA employees have been stood down and another 20-plus will have much reduced hours.”

There was no word on the group’s leadership structure in coming months, but the short-term focus was on processing cancellations and postponements, helping members, and protecting MRBTA assets like caves and lighthouses, which were closed more than a week ago.

MRBTA wanted “to ensure (we are) in as strong a position as possible to emerge from this hibernation period and assist in the recovery of the region’s economy,” Mr Harrison said.

“The not-for-profit nature of our organisation makes it impossible for us to sustain our workforce of 150 staff in employment for any period of time where revenue is not being realised.”

Mr Harrison said Federal action was a big help, but it would still be a difficult period for workers.

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