Premier Mark McGowan pledges jobs bump as $57.7m Great Southern COVID-19 recovery package unveiled

Sarah MakseAlbany Advertiser
Premier Mark McGowan elbow- bumps industrial skills lecturer Aaron St Jack.
Camera IconPremier Mark McGowan elbow- bumps industrial skills lecturer Aaron St Jack. Credit: Kellie Balaam/Albany Advertiser

Trails, trades and training were on the agenda for Premier Mark McGowan’s whirlwind visit to Albany on Thursday to detail a $57.7 million COVID-19 recovery package for the Great Southern.

Shovel-ready projects to fix “long-term problems” were the target of the package to drive economic-growth across the Great Southern region and create a pipeline of jobs into the future.

“This is a very significant package for the Great Southern,” Mr McGowan said.

“Making sure we have vibrant and exciting and very productive regions is an important part of making sure everyone benefits from the success story that is Western Australia.”

Premier Mark McGowan and Labor Party candidate for Albany Rebecca Stephens at Middleton Beach.
Camera IconPremier Mark McGowan and Labor Party candidate for Albany Rebecca Stephens at Middleton Beach. Credit: Michael Traill / Albany Advertiser

A $12.78m cash splash will help build the Great Southern’s “trail towns”, with trails to be created and upgraded in the the William Bay, Torndirrup and Porongurup national parks.

“That’s actually terrific for employment... (It) provides real labour opportunities and people getting to work very, very quickly,” Mr McGowan said.

“It also provides a tourism benefit — people love these trails.”

Walking and cycle trails and visitor centres throughout the region’s national parks will receive a $4.9m boost.

About $1m will be pumped into the Bibbulmun Track and Munda Biddi Trail to refresh campsites and upgrade sections of the popular tourism assets.

Premier Mark McGowan at the Albany Wind Farm.
Camera IconPremier Mark McGowan at the Albany Wind Farm. Credit: Kellie Balaam / Albany Advertiser

Mr McGowan’s first stop on Thursday was the Albany Wind Farm, where he was joined by Energy Minister Bill Johnston to announce a feasibility study into the local manufacture of wind turbine components.

The Premier said WA needed more manufacturing and needed to be more self-sufficient given that traditional supply chains were “now under threat”.

“Clearly wind will be an important part of our renewable future for decades, if not centuries, to come and we want to make sure WA is at the forefront,” he said.

Premier Mark McGowan and energy minister Bill Johnson at the Albany Wind Farm.
Camera IconPremier Mark McGowan and energy minister Bill Johnson at the Albany Wind Farm. Credit: Kellie Balaam / Albany Advertiser

Mr McGowan then visited South Regional TAFE’s Albany campus to inspect the site of the campus’ new $17m trade workshop, set to deliver training in automotive, engineering and the construction industries.

With some workshops dating back to 1974, the facility facelift would have “flow-on benefits” across the community, he said.

“The TAFE college in Albany has advocated and worked on plans for at least 10 years and we wanted to make sure that we could, as part of recovery, fix long-term issues and provide a pipeline of work for local builders,” he said.

“It will provide the best of training opportunities, state-of-the-art facilities, and it will be a great addition to the local TAFE college and great for Albany.” Mr McGowan said he hoped to see work on the new facility begin next year.

Premier Mark McGowan talks with electrotechnology department.
Camera IconPremier Mark McGowan talks with electrotechnology department. Credit: Kellie Balaam/ Albany Advertiser

Upgrades to key facilities will be rolled out across the Great Southern including $1.1m for North Albany Senior High School and $1.5m for Katanning police.

Mr McGowan rounded out his visit at Middleton Beach, announcing $1.1m for parking enhancements, upgrades to the Ellen Cove amphitheatre, and infrastructure to link the boardwalk and jetty.

A $14m Regional Road Safety Program will have 155km of road shoulders sealed and fitted with audible lines in a project expected to to create 80 local jobs.

An estimated 200 government workers’ houses will be upgraded across the Great Southern as part of an $80m Statewide scheme, and five to 10 new social housing properties are set for construction.

The Albany State Emergency Service is set for a $3m boost for works and upgrades to its headquarters.

Carpentry student Callum Jones and Premier Mark McGowan.
Camera IconCarpentry student Callum Jones and Premier Mark McGowan. Credit: Kellie Balaam/Albany Advertiser

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