Koombana site sale idea a ‘no-brainer’: Thomas
Bunbury MLA Don Punch has labelled a suggestion to release the former Department of Parks and Wildlife headquarters site to the private market as “political opportunism” and a knee-jerk reaction.
The suggestion came from South West MLC Steve Thomas who believes any profit made from selling the Koombana site could be used to pay back subcontractors that have been left hundreds of thousands of dollars out of pocket.
The site is again in limbo after civil engineering and earthworks company BCL Group went into liquidation, leaving several Bunbury subcontractors unpaid.
Mr Thomas said releasing the “prime” site to the market for private investment and development was a “no-brainer” and taking care of subcontractors was the responsibility of the State Government.
“There is no way in my mind that a project that is owned by and managed by the Government should be sending subcontractors broke,” Mr Thomas said.
“I think the Government has no choice but to intercede and the easiest and most obvious way forward is for it to be sold to the private sector.”
“It’s a pretty obvious one and it may offset the exorbitant price of the project for what it’s delivered, but in reality the subcontractors in this point in my view should come first.”
But Mr Punch said the suggestion should “not be taken seriously”.
“We need to allow the Bunbury Development Committee to do its work and make recommendations about the future of the site,” Mr Punch said.
“Any decision made now would be a knee-jerk reaction to the current situation with the head contractor.
“The community has suffered over recent years from major project decisions being made on the run and without clear objectives or business cases and that is not the way the McGowan Government does business.”
“Any suggestion to just sell off the site without thorough investigation and after substantial public investment is nothing more than political opportunism, smacks of the kind of poor decision making we endured under the Liberal National Government and should not be taken seriously.”
The Department of Finance has taken control of the site and is working with the subcontractors.
While Mr Punch said in the absence of any community consultation he did not yet have an opinion on what the site was suitable for, Mr Thomas said it was a prime location for a tourism or hospitality venture.
“There’s a range of projects that could be put there, I’d like to see something in the tourism or hospitality sector in particular because it’s a prime location to get visitors into the South West and the Greater Bunbury region,” Mr Thomas said.
“It’s a prime location for something like a four or five star hotel, it’s a prime location for a tourism venture of some sort, overlooking Koombana Bay.
“I think we just need to progress it, test the water, put it out to the market and the private sector and see what comes back.”
Mr Punch said the Bunbury Development Committee would make its recommendations.
“The Bunbury Development Committee is tasked with identifying the best options for the site that will meet community expectations and drive future growth in our CBD,” he said.
“In the absence of any evidence of community consultation indicating the best use of the site I do not yet have an opinion on the future use of the Koombana site.
“Stage one is 95 per cent complete and stage two will commence with advice from the Bunbury Development Committee.
“I have no doubt the Department will be seeking to see work recommenced and the project completed as soon as possible.”
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