The President of the Shire of Augusta Margaret River believes the region’s high profile and strong tourism growth will be enough to protect it from suffering should the new state government move to scrap the SuperTowns program.
Responding to strong indication from regional development minister Alannah MacTiernan that the Royalties for Regions program will receive an overhaul, president Ian Earl said the region was well placed to continue growth.
“The SuperTowns program has been very beneficial to the Shire of Augusta Margaret River for a few reasons, one of them being that it forced the region to deliver very well researched, conservative financial and development plans, putting in place long term visions,” Cr Earl said.
“From my understanding and from what I have heard, Ms MacTiernan considers the Margaret River region a special case given that we have had extremely positive results from our work within the program, and the South West continues to be the popular choice for tourists.”
The program, which was first proposed by former Nationals WA leader Brendon Grylls, has invested more than $6 billion in the regions since 2008.
Ms MacTiernan said the incoming Labor government would redirect Royalties for Regions funding to infrastructure that created jobs, such as renewable energy projects.
Ms MacTiernan said fewer “ribbon cutting opportunities” and town beautification projects would be funded.
“Too much of the focus of the program to date had been on amenity,” she said.
“This hasn’t created sustainable jobs in the regions and has left local governments with facilities they cannot afford to run long-term.”
Cr Earl said the influx of visitors over the Easter weekend was a clear indication the state government could not ignore the South West region.
“I think it’s very important that we remain in the eye of the government and that all the good work that has been established already, like Surfers Point and the Cultural Centre redevelopment, continues,” he said.
“It’s clear that the tourists are not going to just stop coming, and we need to concentrate on being prepared for that to continue to support the local economy as it grows.”