WA Premier Mark McGowan visits Busselon on the campaign trail

Busselton Jetty chief executive Lisa Shreeve, Labor candidates Jackie Jarvis, Chris Hossen and Premier Mark McGowan at the Busselton Jetty.
Busselton Jetty chief executive Lisa Shreeve, Labor candidates Jackie Jarvis, Chris Hossen and Premier Mark McGowan at the Busselton Jetty.

WA Premier Mark McGowan visited Busselton in the lead up to the state election which is set to take place on March 13, 2021.

Mr McGowan addressed the media with Labor Vasse candidate Chris Hossen and candidate for the upper house Jackie Jarvis.

Addressing the media, Mr McGowan reaffirmed that if reelected his government would commit $9.5 million towards the Busselton Jetty's Australian Underwater Discovery Centre project.

"That joins with Commonwealth, local government money and the foundation's [Busselton Jetty Inc] commitment which takes it to around nearly $30 million towards this project," he said.

"The Busselton Jetty is a Western Australian icon, and with this investment the Australian Underwater Discovery Centre will become a world-class tourist destination.

"It will be a massive expansion of the underwater observatory and ensures their will be hospitality offerings, a bigger viewing area, additional opportunities for commercial spaces and a much bigger employment base for the jetty."

It is expected the AUDC will attract up to 150,000 visitors in its first year creating 340 jobs during construction and 40 jobs in the first five years of operation.

Busselton Jetty chief executive Lisa Shreeve said they were really excited that the Premier came down to make a personal announcement on the AUDC.

"We have been working really hard on this project for four years, it is the result of a lot of hard work that will hopefully keep tourism going again for us during 2022/23," she said.

The project has attracted global headlines with Ms Shreeve saying it has appeared on Lonley Plant, architecture digests and international news sites.

"I think people are just amazed at the design and look of it, wondering what it would be like to go inside," she said.

"We are at 25 per cent design in terms of the internal look and I can tell you that the inside is going to just as amazing as the outside."

Airport terminal funds redirected to jetty project

During the press conference, Mr McGowan confirmed that funding for the project was the money set aside to expand the Busselton Margaret River Airport terminal.

"There has been around $45 million invested in the airport for interstate flights from Melbourne, obviously they had to be suspended for obvious reasons [COVID-19]," Mr McGowan said.

"They are due to recommence in June and if it is successful after its three year trial, we will see how that goes as to whether or not we need to we need to expand the terminal will depend on the success of that operation."

City of Busselton mayor Grant Henley said the city welcomed funding for the AUDC project, but it was disappointing that it had come at the cost of delaying the airport terminal expansion.

"It was the highest priority project from 12 regional local governments in the South West," he said.

Labor, Liberal, the Nationals and Greens have all committed funding towards the AUDC if they win the state election.

Vasse MLA Libby Mettam said while she welcomed the announcement it should not have to come at the cost of the airport project.

"They are using funds which were committed under the former government for the Busselton airport upgrade," she said.

"While we 100 per cent support the underwater observatory it is disappointing that the government have made this decision at the cost of something else."