Sunday, 14 August 2016
Speaking at the Liberal Party State Conference today, Mr Barnett said the government had delivered an additional 503,000 hectares of land to the State's terrestrial conservation estate and an increase of 945,000ha to our marine parks since 2008.
"By protecting our unique environment, we can ensure this amazing resource will remain for our children and grandchildren while also being showcased to local and international visitors," he said.
It was one of a number of announcements the Premier made at the annual conference, including committing to a new purpose-built Quadriplegic Centre.
Tourism opportunities to be opened up at Abrolhos Islands
The Premier said the Liberal-led government would create the Abrolhos Islands National Park, covering the land component of about 90 per cent of the islands.
Mr Barnett said this would not only ensure that the extraordinary and unique environment and heritage of the Abrolhos was protected for our children and future West Australians, it would also open up the islands to more tourism opportunities. It would also ensure ongoing access for commercial and recreational fishermen.
"The Abrolhos are the jewel in the crown of the Mid-West coast, but have been largely untapped for tourism purposes. This new arrangement will ensure better access and also lead to better visitor facilities on the islands," he said.
The 123 Abrolhos islands are in four groups. About 10 per cent of the islands - 21 - currently contain some fishing infrastructure, including fishermen's shacks and private jetties, as well as Department of Fisheries' infrastructure.
The Abrolhos Islands National Park will cover the unoccupied islands and will be managed by the Department of Parks and Wildlife, while the waters will continue to be managed by the Department of Fisheries as a Fish Protection Zone.
Those islands, currently accessed by fishermen under the terms of their commercial rock lobster fishing licences, will also continue to be managed by Fisheries.
"Arrangements for the commercial and recreational fishermen who currently use the islands will remain unchanged. The rock lobster fishing interests and the aquaculture operations will continue to operate under the management of the Department of Fisheries," Mr Barnett said.
The Premier said the tourism potential of the islands was vast and Geraldton was an ideal base for visitors to the Abrolhos.
"As a regional centre within a reasonably short drive from Perth, the benefits to Geraldton will be significant," he said.
"In addition to activities such as diving on coral reefs, sightseeing, walking, fishing and whale watching, the Abrolhos are extraordinarily important historically as the site of several shipwrecks, including the Batavia, leading to one of the most chilling tales of shipwreck and mutiny in Australian history."
Mr Barnett said initial infrastructure improvement efforts would focus on the Wallabi group of islands, with improved facilities such as an upgraded jetty and camping facilities.
The Premier said one area of major reform had been in retail trading hours. He said it was evident in 2008 that WA's retail trading laws were overly prescriptive and a barrier to business.
"It was also evident Perth was falling behind by not providing what customers demanded, and had come to expect, in other places around the country and the world," he said.
"However, this government recognised it was important to introduce change in a gradual and progressive way which had allowed businesses - and the community as a whole - to adjust to a new retail environment."
Mr Barnett said the first step had been to extend weeknight trading to 9pm and to relax the staff cap on many small retail shops and allow them to own more stores, assisting more than 7,000 small retailers in WA.
Following this, the government introduced Sunday trading from 11am to 5pm and abolished confusing 'special trading precincts', creating a level playing field for retailers.
The Premier said legislation to amend the Retail Trading Hours Act 1987 to address further anomalies in the system and extend trading hours for general retail shops in the metropolitan area from 7am to 9pm on all weekdays and from 7am to 6pm on Saturdays, and removing restrictions on what service stations and special retailers (hardware stores) could sell, had now been introduced to Parliament.
"At last year's conference, I said we would extend shopping hours on Sundays and I confirm that 9am Sunday shopping will be the first measure if this Government is re-elected in March 2017," he said.
"The practical effect of these overdue changes is that Western Australian consumers will have greater choice and shops will open in line with most Australian capital cities."
New Quadriplegic Centre to be built on Shenton Park site
Mr Barnett said $7 billion had been spent building a new world-class hospital system across the State.
"I am proud of the record my Government has in ensuring West Australians have access to the very best in health care in a hospital system that has been basically rebuilt over the past eight years," he said.
"But it is clear there are some things still remaining to be done and a new Quad Centre is definitely overdue."
The Premier said the existing facility at Shenton Park, which currently housed 48 people with disability, was 50-years-old and not suited to contemporary modes of care.
It would be replaced with a new purpose-built residential facility that better reflected modern care for patients with spinal injury.
Mr Barnett said the new centre would be at the same site and would have about 30 beds, fewer than the current 72 beds because more people with spinal injury would choose to live at home or in other more independent settings.
A further 12 custom-built homes will be built over four years to accommodate patients wanting to live within the community.
"The cost of the residential facility is likely to be between $20-30 million, but may be offset by land sales at the Shenton Park site. The additional 12 community homes will cost about $10 million," the Premier said.
Mr Barnett said patients and their families would be consulted before a final model was determined.
"All current residents will be able to remain in residential care if that is their wish," he said.
Sealed road from Broome to Cape Leveque
The Premier said the Liberal-led Government would add to the tourism potential of Broome and the Kimberley, and better support community services, by the staged construction of an all-weather sealed road from Broome through the length of the Dampier Peninsula to Cape Leveque.
The road will open up tourism and business opportunities along the length of the Peninsula and provide much-needed improved safety and access for Aboriginal communities, pastoralists and pearling and aquaculture operations.
There are an estimated 1,425 people living in 71 Aboriginal communities (52 are permanent) on the Dampier Peninsula. This represents the greatest density of Aboriginal communities in WA.
The road from Broome to Cape Leveque is 200 kilometres and 110km is already sealed. The remaining 90km is often impassable in the wet season. Sealing the remainder of the road will cost about $65 million. The project would be done in stages.
Mr Barnett said places such as One Arm Point, about 200km north of Broome, had great tourism potential with a spectacular coastline and stunning views across the Buccaneer Archipelago.
"I hope Aboriginal communities in the area will have the opportunity to develop tourism businesses and introduce visitors to Aboriginal culture, traditional fishing techniques and bush foods, as well as provide accommodation and meals," he said.
Premier's office - 6552 5000