Shaping the future of WA

Twenty years ago the Busselton Jetty was in ruins and about to be demolished, now it is WA's second biggest tourist attraction outside of Perth with plans to develop the world's biggest natural underwater observatory.
Twenty years ago the Busselton Jetty was in ruins and about to be demolished, now it is WA's second biggest tourist attraction outside of Perth with plans to develop the world's biggest natural underwater observatory.

Twenty years ago the Busselton Jetty was in ruins about to be demolished, and the Busselton and Dunsborough foreshores had not been redeveloped.

There were no major sporting facilities or skate parks, Cape Naturaliste College did not exist and areas such as Yalyalup, Vasse and Dunsborough Lakes were in their infancy.

Infrastructure developments have shaped where we live bringing social and economic benefits and now the state government is asking residents about the future of WA's infrastructure plan.

The State Infrastructure Strategy Discussion Paper was released last week and is currently out for public consultation.

The discussion paper is a key aspect to progressing the development of a 20-year plan and outlines how Infrastructure WA proposes to develop the state-wide long-term infrastructure strategy.

The first state infrastructure strategy is expected to provide important advice to government, and will identify WA's infrastructure needs and priorities over the next 20 years.

City of Busselton mayor Grant Henley.

City of Busselton mayor Grant Henley.

Completion of the Busselton Margaret River Airport and construction of a new performing arts and convention centre were two major projects Busselton mayor Grant Henley said would provide opportunities.

"The airport industrial area has the potential to build an export centre of excellence for premium produce," Mr Henley said.

"Other significant infrastructure projects include the development of new active outdoor playing fields in Vasse and extensions to our leisure and community centres."

Mr Henley said roads, rail and air assets, as well as internet and power were essential for employment but the region also needed to look at iconic tourism draw cards that grow international and interstate tourism while preserving the natural environment.

"I see bike networks for e-bikes as being viable alternatives to expensive roads, especially in our urban environments. Facilities for recreation will continue to be required to maintain our liveability," he said.

"Funding is always the issue given these projects represent significant investment but we also need vision to avoid funding redundant infrastructure.

"Internet connectivity, power and transport networks with capacity for autonomous and alternatively powered vehicles require long lead times but are changing and evolving rapidly. Localised power production and supply could be a game changer for our community."

Vasse MLA Libby Mettam said it was vital there was investment in regional tourism infrastructure given the impact of coronavirus.

Vasse MLA Libby Mettam.

Vasse MLA Libby Mettam.

"The tourism industry lost $3.1 billion and more than 30,000 jobs as six months' worth of bookings were cancelled and refunds paid to customers following regional WA travel restrictions," she said.

The Australian Underwater Discovery Centre was a shovel-ready project and would be a tourism icon, attracting national and international visitors, also supporting flights from the Busselton Margaret River Airport, she said.

The Wadandi track from Marybrook to Cowaramup and the continuation of the dual use path from Dunsborough to Yallingup were in need of funding and would enhance the world class walking and cycling trails in the region.

"Targeted support from the Government would allow community groups to invest in much needed sporting infrastructure, which will support local businesses, trades and labourers during this time.

"Given the discussions about currently repurposing the terminal funds, it is essential there remains a commitment of $9.5 million following the successful trial of flights by Jetstar.

"This is a great opportunity to meet our shared goal of growing tourism and regional development and jobs, at a time when these markets are under considerable pressure."

As part of the strategy the state government will look at developing WA's second major city outside of Perth.

Mr Henley said the City of Busselton was a popular place to live and one of the fastest growing regional municipalities in WA.

"Developments like the Busselton Margaret River Airport and the new performing arts centre expand and diversify employment opportunities and are strong drawcards," he said.

"It is not outside the bounds of reality to assume that we may become the state's second largest city in population but we must acknowledge pragmatically that Bunbury has regional advantages in industry, port and rail infrastructure to grow regional employment in areas like the Picton Industrial investigation area.

"Many of those jobs created will, however, be for people who live in our district."

Premier: Infrastructure investment critical to WA's future

Premier Mark McGowan said infrastructure investment was critical to WA's future and would not only support a strong, resilient and diversified economy, but also create long-term jobs and provide greater certainty to industry.

"As WA continues to recover from COVID-19 in the short term, Infrastructure WA will provide the state government with advice for investment and will help inform major infrastructure developments over the medium and long-term," he said.

"It's vital we have a pipeline of projects to build and develop communities and shape the state for generations to come while supporting local workers in jobs right along the way."

Infrastructure WA chairperson John Langoulant said the the State Infrastructure Strategy was fundamental to Infrastructure WA's work, and was the foundation of their advice to government.

"The feedback we receive on this discussion paper will inform the development of the strategy, and it is critical that we hear from those stakeholders who rely on the state's infrastructure for their wellbeing and prosperity," he said.

"I encourage a productive, open and robust discussion about the issues canvassed in this discussion paper.

"This is an opportunity for stakeholders and the community to be a part of the process."

The discussion paper can be found online at infrastructure.wa.gov.au/DiscussionPaper.

Have your say: What infrastructure would you like to see in the region? Email editorial@busseltonmail.com.au.