Eric Charlton

Eric Charlton

Former Minister for Transport

    Busselton Shire Council called on to censure its chief executive

    26/01/1998 12:00 AM



    Transport Minister Eric Charlton today called on the Busselton Shire Council to censure its chief executive, Michael Swift.


    The Minister accused Mr Swift of political mischief and irresponsibility following media comments over funding for Bussell Highway.


    "Mr Swift has not bothered to check his facts and is playing some sort of political game," Mr Charlton said.


    The Minister said that upgrading the highway to dual carriageway was in the Government's 1996-97 funding program but had been removed after the shire advised that it wanted the project abandoned.


    "The council advised Main Roads that they did not need the dual carriageway and wanted all funding efforts to be focussed on getting the Busselton Bypass brought forward," he said.


    "Mr Swift is now falsely claiming the Government initiated a diversion of $2.2million in funds from Bussell Highway to other projects around the State.


    "He has chosen to create a political mischief when in fact his own shire council is at the root of any delays with dualing Bussell Highway.


    "It is almost inconceivable that Mr Swift chooses to mislead his community, because before this Government raised extra funding for Statewide roadworks through the Additional Funding Program, the Busselton Bypass was never funded.


    "This Government pushed hard for the Busselton Bypass project which now has funding of $16.9 million with work scheduled to commence in 2001-2002 or before.


    "It is also important to recognise that Bussell Highway has also stayed in the program, despite the debate within the shire council on whether or not it should go ahead.


    "To publicly suggest the Government initiated a diversion of the funds to other projects is reprehensible and clearly wrong," he said.


    "When I visited Busselton last year, we agreed with the shire to carry out repairs to the existing section of Bussell Highway while continuing to work towards dualing the remaining three-kilometre section from the town centre to Newtown."


    Mr Charlton said pre-construction for the highway dualing project was already underway and involved design, land acquisition and service relocation. There was also a need to resolve issues associated with access to businesses and residential properties along the route before construction could begin.


    "Main Roads is working through the issues in an orderly fashion and the original scope of the project is being altered to accommodate these needs" he said.


    "The Government recognises the need for dualing the highway and has a commitment to the project, with construction scheduled to begin in 2000.


    "There is no suggestion the project has been scrapped and Mr Swift would do well to spend a little time researching instead of politicking.


    "I am disappointed by the ill-conceived comments, because during my five years as Minister the Busselton region has fared well when it comes to road and other Government funding.


    "The State Government spent $3.5 million on the Busselton Regional Airport and obtained a further $500,000 in Federal funding for the project and currently subsidises the commercial passenger air service to the region.


    "The community has seen an uplift in general road funding for the region with a recent centrepiece being the magnificent Sue's Road project," he said.


    Media contact: Doug Cunningham 9321 7333