Regional development minister Alannah MacTiernan has defended the state goverment’s support of the City of Busselton’s bid to secure an airline contract, declaring it is an outcome ‘everyone’ has tried to achieve.
Her comments were in response to questioning from the Mail, prompted by Warren-Blackwood MLA Terry Redman’s queries in budget estimate hearings on May 22.
Mr Redman questioned the state government about the Western Australian Treasury Corporation account, which he believed held $2.5 million of untouched Royalties for Regions funding for the Busselton Margaret River Airport project.
Ms MacTiernan confirmed the remaining Royalties for Regions funds for the project were held in the account.
“As at the last statement period, April 30, 2018, $6.24 million remained in the Western Australian Treasury Corporation account for the project. Subsequently $1.4 million has been returned to the state as a result of identified project savings,” she said.
“No further payments are scheduled to occur until agreement has been secured from an airline to a new Busselton interstate route.”
A further $9.5 million in Regional Airport Development Scheme funding is being held by the Department of Transport in relation to terminal construction.
Mr Redman also questioned the state government and South West Develop Commission’s support of the project.
Ms MacTiernan said the state government, through South West Development Commission and Tourism WA, had worked with the city, aviation consultants and airlines directly on airline engagement.
“In addition the South West Development Commission has been working with the city to investigate potential freight opportunities that leverage off the new infrastructure delivered by the project,” she said.
“Chairman Mr Nick Belyea has also been active in directly engaging with potential airline partners from a government relations perspective.
“The challenge for the project is without doubt finding an airline that is prepared to commit. Everyone has tried to secure that outcome.”
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