National industry award does little to sway state government on airport

Regional development minister Alannah MacTiernan remained adamant the state government would halt progressing further with the airport project until a deal with an airline was secured.
Regional development minister Alannah MacTiernan remained adamant the state government would halt progressing further with the airport project until a deal with an airline was secured.

A national award for excellence is still not enough for the state government to provide funding to finish the Busselton Margaret River Airport passenger terminal.

The airport received the ‘Airport Innovation and Excellence Award for Infrastructure Development – Regional Airport’ for its airside and landside civil infrastructure project at the 2018 National Australian Airports Association Awards on November 14.

Despite the win, regional development minister Alannah MacTiernan remained adamant the state government would halt progressing further with the airport project until a deal with an airline was secured.

“As explained many times, without an airline wanting to use the facilities, it makes no sense to build a new terminal,” she said.

The award for the airport follows the region’s success at the recent Australia Hotel Associations WA Awards and the Tourism WA Awards, in which the region scooped eight accolades, including gold for Major Tourist Attractions (Busselton Jetty) and for Festivals and Events (CinefestOz Film Festival).

In response to this, Ms MacTiernan said it was fantastic to see the “government’s strong focus on driving regional tourism and events being recognised” by the hospitality and tourism industries.

“We will certainly be leveraging these awards and this recognition for the region as part of negotiations with airlines to bring regular passenger flights to the airport,” she said.

City of Busselton chief executive officer Mike Archer said with city operators shining so significantly in the WA Tourism Awards, it was clear that the South West was a major tourism draw-card for the state and that demand for regular passenger flights directly into the region would increase.

The region’s state representatives Warren-Blackwood MLA Terry Redman and Vasse MLA Libby Mettam both congratulated the city on winning the national award, and urged the state government to invest in its future.

“This high level of acknowledgement is a significant accolade from the airport industry and is a strong indicator the industry sees the merit of the Busselton-Margaret River Airport,” Mr Redman said.

“With the airstrip upgrade completed, and the airfreight hub about to progress, it is time the McGowan Government released the allocated funds for the new passenger terminal.

“This investment in the award winning Busselton-Margaret River Airport will drive economic growth in the region and build the tourism sector. All over Australia, it is evident that regional airports provide a vital connection to regional attractions and local communities.”

Ms Mettam added the award was a fantastic endorsement of a vital regional aviation product, which every industry group, and government, with the exception of this state government, recognised.

“It is time for the McGowan Government to stop politicising this issue and support regional aviation outcomes for the state by completing the terminal and providing genuine support for the interstate route for the benefit of not only this region, but the state as a whole,” she said. 

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