Understanding what measures are needed to promote sustained growth in the South West will be a key agenda item for The Nationals WA team visiting Bunbury and Busselton today.
Regional Cities spokesperson Ian Blayney is spearheading meetings with business and community leaders to learn what issues impact each city as they strive for greater economic and social prosperity.
“Bunbury, Busselton and the surrounding districts form one of the fastest growing pockets of the nation, forecast to add almost 50,000 to the region’s collective population in the next decade,” Mr Blayney said.
“Like all aspirational towns and cities there can be growing pains and through this listening tour I hope to learn what legislative, investment and sustainability hurdles can be overcome to assist their development priorities.”
Mr Blayney will be joined by Nationals WA Member for the South West Colin Holt and Member for Warren Blackwood Terry Redman on today’s tour.
In August The Nationals WA created the Regional Cities portfolio, shining a spotlight on Kununurra, Broome, Port Hedland, Karratha, Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Northam, Bunbury, Busselton, Albany, Esperance and Geraldton.
About half of regional WA’s population – roughly 250,000 – lives in these 11 centres, which play an important role driving development of the regions surrounding them.
Mr Blayney has recently visited Port Hedland and Kalgoorlie-Boulder as well as meeting the Regional Capitals Alliance and Regional Cities Australia organisations to discuss how opportunities can be leveraged between local, State and Federal governments.
He said investigating decentralisation of government services and industry as well as investment frameworks for supporting population growth were key focuses of the portfolio.
“Fostering regional development needs input and support from the local community up, so our engagement is about understanding where Busselton and Bunbury want to get to and how we can assist the journey,” he said.
“Decentralisation, incentives for business and greater investment from government and the private sector can contribute to the great lifestyle and strong economies of regional WA – especially the South West which is valued at $13.5 billion and attracts more than 2.5 million visitors annually.
“We need to ensure planning for population growth – and the seasonal influx of tourists – includes quality education and health services, vibrant cultural precincts, local economies that drive job creation and investment opportunities so our regional centres remain attractive places to live, visit and do business.”