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Thursday, 13 March 2008
Page: 1793

Ms MARINO (9:55 AM) —I am constantly being contacted by many constituents in the Busselton area who are concerned that there has been no answer from the new federal government—in the positive or the negative—to the Shire of Busselton’s funding application under the Regional Partnerships program for its proposal to rebuild the Busselton jetty. I understand that meetings with the federal Labor ministers have been requested by the shire but there has been nothing but silence from the government. The Busselton Shire has committed $6 million to this project and sought federal funding assistance to match its contribution.

The shire has also approached the Western Australian state government for matching funds. In August 2007 the Western Australian government offered a matching $6 million in funding for this project, but such funding was conditional upon the state government having access to an income stream from six parcels of land right on the Busselton foreshore to be retained as ground leases—with an estimated value of $20 million in today’s terms—over the life of the 50-year maintenance program. The state government is expecting to be refunded the $6 million funding commitment and more from these ground leases. Only after the state government’s contribution has been refunded will the Shire of Busselton be able to utilise the income stream for jetty maintenance purposes.

Along with many other south-west residents, I was disappointed to see the unconditional acceptance of the state government’s offer, which did not take note of strong community concerns. Objection to the state government’s conditions has been a consistent response from the local community. I do not support the conditions tied to the state government funding, which will basically see the Busselton community lose its public land on the foreshore in exchange for the jetty project. There really has been no commitment from the WA state Labor government, as it stands to gain substantially more from the proceeds and the property leases than its mere $6 million initial contribution. The sacrifice of future foreshore public open space or well-planned, locally-driven development initiatives is short-sighted. With such a budget surplus surely the state governments can do better than this.

I am focused on ensuring that the federal government sees the merits of this project and ultimately approves funding. I call on the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government to announce this immediately, approve the funding and start talking openly to the Shire of Busselton and the residents so that the project can finally have its funding confirmed at the federal level. I believe that the Busselton jetty rebuild project is not only an important project for the future of Busselton but also is an historic tourist icon that plays a vital role in the economic and social history of the greater southwest region. We are hearing constantly about ending the blame game. Well, here is a prime opportunity for the government to put its money where its mouth is and announce funding for the Busselton jetty project. (Time expired)