MLC anger over Koombana reserve site works

Kate FieldingSouth Western Times

A Liberal MP is “furious” the State Government is spending more than $11 million “for a carpark and toilet” on the site formerly earmarked for a Department of Parks and Wildlife headquarters.

South West MLC Steve Thomas said the newly-named Koombana Park Precinct was the best example of “government wastage” he had seen and he was “astounded” by the Government’s plans, which included more than $3 million for a toilet block.

The Koombana Drive site has been in limbo since a review into the project was announced in July by the newly-formed Labor Government.

Landscaping and civil works to convert the prime Bunbury land have continued and the area is not set to re-open to the public until at least May next year.

The project has been budgeted to cost $11.5 million, which Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan confirmed included $3.2 million for an accessible toilet block as part of stage two.

Happier times: Former Premier Colin Barnett leads the turning of the sod at the site of the proposed Department of Parks and Wildlife headquarters in 2016.
Camera IconHappier times: Former Premier Colin Barnett leads the turning of the sod at the site of the proposed Department of Parks and Wildlife headquarters in 2016. Credit: Aaron Corlett / South Western Times

According to Ms MacTiernan, the $8.3 million stage one already under way or completed includes landscaped parkland, new walk trails, a lookout and playground, a multi-use education and recreation pavilion, mangrove boardwalk restoration and carparks.

But Ms MacTiernan also told the South Western Times the toilet facility could be reconsidered.

“We are considering alternative longer term uses for the site and whether construction of a toilet block is required,” Ms MacTiernan said.

“We are always open to cost savings.”

Dr Thomas said while there was undeniably a “bit of sharing” in blame between both governments, he was stunned by the underwhelming plans.

“It’s one of the biggest wastes we’ll see,” Mr Thomas said.

“An $11 million carpark which is essentially an overflow carpark to the Koombana foreshore precinct over the road and a $3 million toilet block that’s not needed.

“Is it any wonder the budget is in the diabolical state it is.”

Happier times: Former Premier Colin Barnett meets a bushtail possum after the State Government announced $29 million of funding for a Department of Parks and Wildlife headquarters in 2016.
Camera IconHappier times: Former Premier Colin Barnett meets a bushtail possum after the State Government announced $29 million of funding for a Department of Parks and Wildlife headquarters in 2016. Credit: Aaron Corlett / South Western Times

Ms MacTiernan said the precinct would offer “real opportunities” in adding greater value to the Transforming Bunbury’s Waterfront Project.

“We have committed $500,000 for a review of the project and consideration of an alternative use for the site,” Ms MacTiernan said.

“It is located across the road from the Dolphin Discovery Centre and will create a major tourism precinct for Bunbury.”

Bunbury MLA Don Punch said not proceeding with stage one of the project started by the previous government would have been a “waste of public funds for no outcome” and any assessment of the area now was “premature”.

“When complete, the current works will significantly enhance the land form on that site and will deliver a community asset in the form of usable park facilities that link to the inlet, new walk trails, a playground and a range of other infrastructure,” Mr Punch said.

“It will also have addressed the issue of soil contamination in parts of the site left over from former mineral sands operations.

“As such a considerable amount of work has taken place which is not readily visible but necessary before any development work can take place.

“The Koombana Park Precinct is located on a key entry site to Bunbury and it is important it is used in a way that best capitalises on the public investment in the site.”

He said the Bunbury Development Committee would determine the best future use of the site in a way that “supports the growth of the CBD”.

“With the current works not yet complete and the Bunbury Development Committee yet to make a determination on the future of the site, any assessment of that area is premature,” he said.

“Once a long term future of the site is decided, I am confident an impressive community asset will be delivered for Bunbury at the Koombana park site,” he said.

Mr Thomas said the Government should consider selling the site to try and “recoup some of the losses” and a tourist attraction venture or five-star hotel would be appropriate.

“What we don’t need is additional car parking and we definitely don’t need a $3 million toilet,” he said.

Mr Thomas also suggested the “singing toilet” previously removed from the Koombana North site could be used instead of a new toilet and the “songs could be updated”.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails