Barnett takes a ‘modest’ development approach

25/03/2009 - 22:00

HOPES of Perth throwing off its Dullsville tag once and for all have been dashed with the government's belt-tightening and its shift in priorities for key infrastructure projects.

Barnett takes a ‘modest’ development approach

HOPES of Perth throwing off its Dullsville tag once and for all have been dashed with the government's belt-tightening and its shift in priorities for key infrastructure projects.

Almost $2.7 billion in various venue and project developments were earmarked to transform the face of the Western Australian capital when Alan Carpenter was at the helm just over 12 months ago.

But the change in government, combined with the financial meltdown, has dramatically altered plans to reinvigorate the city via some big-scale projects.

Speaking in Parliament at the start of this month, Premier Colin Barnett said his government had reordered its capital works priorities to focus on essential services, namely schools, hospitals and housing.

The Perth Waterfront redevelopment was leading the charge under the Carpenter plan, but with stage one set to cost more than $300 million, Mr Barnett was quick to remove it from the government's to do list.

"We've scrapped Labor's plans for the Perth foreshore in favour of a more modest redevelopment with greater private sector involvement and investment," Mr Barnett said in Parliament.

The government is yet to reveal exactly what "modest" means in terms of cost or size, although a spokeswoman for Treasurer Troy Buswell told WA Business News it was best to wait for the budget.

However, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA's pre-budget submission highlighted the Perth Waterfront redevelopment as a key priority.

"CCI has long supported the foreshore redevelopment and continues to encourage government to deliver a vibrant and mixed use waterfront precinct. Such a project is long overdue for Perth," CCI said in its pre-budget submission.

The chamber also named the development of a new multi-purpose outdoor stadium as vital for the state.

However, it seems Mr Barnett is not as enthused, and has taken the building of a new football stadium off the agenda for two years, saving the government upwards of $1 billion for the time being.

"We've scrapped the previous government's plan for a new museum at the old East Perth power station in favour of a new museum on the existing site within the Perth cultural precinct," Mr Barnett said.

The government is set to save about $500 million from this change in priority and, once again, the replacement project has not been detailed.

Despite these cuts to spending, and the savings for the state, there are still a number of venues and public works projects under way or committed to by the government.

Workers on the Perth Arena (pictured) poured the ground floor slab a week ago but the cost of the project has blown out to more than $500 million.

And the State Theatre Centre of WA, formerly the Northbridge Performing Arts Centre, is closer to completion at a cost of $91 million.

Albany is set to benefit from a $68 million entertainment centre, which will form part of the port city's waterfront development.

The total price tag for the Albany Waterfront development and the entertainment centre is $110 million.

Further north, the $45 million Bunbury Waterfront development has stalled for now following requests by the City of Bunbury to amend the structure plan.

But LandCorp is currently in talks with the city to ensure any changes to the structure plan remain within the project's cost-neutral parameters in order for it to progress.

The East Perth Redevelopment Authority projects - The Link and Riverside redevelopments - are moving forward at a cost of $9 million and $130 million respectively.


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