Tuesday, 1 December 2015
Forrest Electorate: Infrastructure
The South West of Western Australia is an iconic tourism destination. It includes the internationally renowned Margaret River wine and tourism region and the major regional centres of Busselton and Bunbury. However, the development of the region is held back because of the lack of direct interstate or international air services, which makes travel to our region significantly more complicated than it should be.
The Busselton Regional Airport is strategically located, having the right physical characteristics, a central location and proximity to the Margaret River region, and lacks impediments to expansion, which makes it an ideal location for regular passenger transport. This project is vital for the economic development of the City of Busselton, the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River and the broader, greater South West. It is supported by the entire region, and it is a transformative project. The upgrade of the Busselton Regional Airport has been identified by the Western Australian state government as a project of regional economic and social significance. The state government has committed $59.7 million of state moneys, including $45.9 million from the state government's Royalties for Regions program, $10 million from the Department of Transport, $3.5 million from the City of Busselton itself and $300,000 from the South West Development Commission.
The proposal to expand the Busselton Regional Airport to be able to receive international visitors—which, I am aware, is a really key and important process for the City of Busselton—is justified by wide economic benefits. As I said, it is a transformative project. It is a compelling case for regional investment and will include new and ongoing jobs within the region. It will be a little like dropping a stone into a bucket of water—the ripples will go on and on and the economic development will continue. I know that the business case has undergone rigorous assessment by the state of Western Australia, which proves that the proposed project will be a significant contributor to the South West region's prospects for tourism growth and export development, and it will deliver exceptional employment opportunities. In addition, the facility, once upgraded, is sustainable, and further calls for government assistance and investment will be foreseen.
This project has been many years in development and has withstood scrutiny from private reviewers and the WA government's Treasury department. It is a project of major significance to the South West of Western Australia, and it is essential that it be supported at a Commonwealth level. I understand the National Party's state Minister for Regional Development has conveyed this to the federal Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, and I urge the minister to support his party colleague in this matter. This project is too important to the South West region not to be supported by all levels of government, whether that be local, state or federal. It is a project that will enhance and underpin the development, both economic and social, of what is a truly regional area of Australia. The South West is the largest population outside of the Perth metropolitan area and, being in the same time zone as billions of people in Asia, it has enormous potential to actually develop further and to provide the jobs of the future into the next generation. It is an opportunity that should not be missed.
I look forward to a time when some of the best produce in the world comes from the South West region as freight. For every passenger aircraft there is a wealth of freight that goes out along with the passengers. I am looking forward to the opportunities that will be created for all forms of business. In agriculture we have some of the finest and best quality products not just in Australia but in the world, so I am looking forward to all of that as part of the ongoing development of the airport.