Parking fee ‘gouging’

Jackson Lavell-LeeBusselton Dunsborough Times
The Busselton Margaret River Airport has been a hot topic of discussion
Camera IconThe Busselton Margaret River Airport has been a hot topic of discussion Credit: Jackson Lavell-Lee

City of Busselton councillors have voted to double the cost of daily parking at Busselton-Margaret River Airport.

Parking will now cost $10 per day, with a reduction to $6 per day after 30 days.

A separate fee will be available to fly-in, fly-out workers who use the airport throughout the year.

Mayor Grant Henley opposed the increase, saying “it wasn’t a good message” to immediately be “gouging” airport users.

Councillors agreed to double the parking fees by a majority of five votes to four with Cr Miles, Cr Cox and Cr Barrett Leonard joining Cr Henley by voting against the fee increase.

“I also think if you price yourselves out of the market, you’re doing yourself a disservice,” Cr Henley said.

“We’re talking about 10,000 people from the local area, so it doesn’t add much to our bottom line.

“I think it’s untimely now to introduce that and should be reconsidered once we have the good news that flights have begun.”

However, Cr Ross Payne said there was a burden on ratepayers through the airport subsidy scheme and non-ratepayers looking to use the domestic flight service should also help with the cost of the development.

“Yet another $130,000 subsidy so that people can park their cars there doesn’t sit well with me and I suspect that doesn’t sit well with the majority of people who are not going to be holidaying in Melbourne, who are residents and are going to be paying for the subsidy through their rates,” he said.

When asked how much ratepayers were subsidising the BMRA development, City community and commercial services director Naomi Searle would not disclose the figure, but said the project was funded through a partnership between the City and State and Federal governments.

“The new public car parking fee structure supports the ongoing asset maintenance for the carpark, internal roads, footpaths and operational costs of the car parking systems, and is important revenue,” she said.

“At a starting rate of $10 per day, it is well below industry benchmarks, including other WA regional airports.”

Busselton Aero Club chief flying instructor Peter Hales said he would not park his car at the airport long-term because of a lack of security, but welcomed the minor relief for ratepayers.

“They’ve got to make money somehow to pay off the amount of debt they’ve gotten into to make this happen,” he said.

The first direct flight to Melbourne from BMRA is scheduled for March 25.

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