Busselton Margaret River Airport flagged in Canberra

If the state government do not commit to funding the Busselton Margaret River Airport everyone would end up paying for the decision, said the federal Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Steven Ciobo.

The minister was in Busselton on Thursday to answer questions from business operators in the region.

Mr Ciobo said it would be problematic if the WA government did not commit to the funding and that the federal government were applying “maximum pressure” on the state.

“There is tremendous potential for this part of WA,” he said.

In WA, Mr Ciobo said there had been a nine per cent growth in tourists bringing record highs in the amount of time and money visitors spent here.

“If you are not making money then you need to look at your business, Australia has never had it this good,” he said.

“The airport is critical to bring tourists here, investment in infrastructure supports that.”

Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the federal government had not been in contact with her office about the project and they had repeatedly made it clear that the airport project would go ahead.

“It was important for us to ensure taxpayer money was being spent wisely on a project of this scale,” she said.

“There have been no delays in funding. The City of Busselton has continued airside works while the six-week value optimisation review took place.

“That process is almost complete and we expect to be able to find some savings without compromising the overall project.”

Forrest MP Nola Marino said she wanted to make sure all services were built-in so the airport could adequately cater for international visitors.

Ms Marino said it would be a massive issue for “all of us” if they state government pulled out of their commitment to the funding.

“[The region] is at the top end and we want visitors to have a world class experience when they are here,” she said.

Last week, the City of Bunbury voted unanimously in favour of providing a total of $50,000 over five years in funding to the airport marketing fund over five years.

City of Busselton mayor Grant Henley said the development of the airport was one of the most regionally significant and transformational infrastructure projects in the South West.

Mr Henley said ongoing support of our regional neighbours was critical.

“Our continued appreciation is extended to our funding partners that now include the Margaret River Busselton Tourism Association, Australia’s South West, Shire of Harvey and now the City of Busselton,” he said.

Source: Busselton Dunsborough Mail.