A plan to transform the Abrolhos Islands into a must-see tourist destination could be in jeopardy after revelations the McGowan Government will divert funding to build a new office on the archipelago.
Information obtained by Martin Aldridge, The Nationals Member for the Agricultural Region, shows the McGowan Government is considering building an operations facility at the Wallabi group of islands.
Mr Aldridge said with Labor only allocating $10 million to better protect the Abrolhos Islands and create tourism opportunities, the proposed office could divert key funds.
“The Abrolhos Islands are one of Western Australia’s hidden gems just 60km off the Mid West coast,” Mr Aldridge said.
“I congratulate the Government for continuing the vision and work of the former Liberal National Government in realising the future potential of the islands, however $10 million will not stretch far in this remote and, at times, hostile environment.
“I’m very concerned that infrastructure upgrades on the islands designed to lure more tourists whilst protecting the sensitive ecosystem will be compromised if the Government decides to go ahead and construct a second public service base.”
Leader Mia Davies, who visited the Abrolhos Islands today, said the $10 million could be better spent in other areas.
“The Nationals would prefer that funding be entirely set aside for conservation, fishing, tourism and heritage values,” she said.
“Having seen the facilities close-up today I feel the money would be best spent on improving visitor access, which in turn would minimise risk for tourists and prevent any adverse environmental impacts on the islands.”
Mr Aldridge said the Minister for Environment had confirmed that planning for the sustainable development of the Abrolhos, including for the new operations facility had commenced.
“Building staff offices and accommodation with these funds is not the right priority,” Mr Aldridge said.
“We have a once in a generation opportunity to get this right in what is a remote and sensitive environment.
“$10 million will not stretch far and should be focused on outcomes rather than duplication of government agencies and government offices at the islands.”