More long-term job opportunities required for Collie: South-West MLC

South-West MLC Steve Thomas.
South-West MLC Steve Thomas.

Debate over what is best for Collie's economy continues after Liberal South-West MLC Steve Thomas criticised the state government for not doing enough.

Speaking to the Mail, Mr Thomas said more could, and should, be done to increase the number of long-term job opportunities within the district.

He added that a greater focus was required in order to shift the town's workforce out of coal and energy, and into other industries.

"I am really pleased that the state government dumped the biomass plant and solar farm projects," he said.

"However, I am concerned that we are not seeing enough job creation coming out of those two funds - the Collie Futures Fund and the Industry Attraction and Development Fund.

"I would like to see a greater focus on industrial development.

"Instead of allocating $1.5m to a mural, I also think the government should be investing in facilities around Collie's existing water assets."

Premier Mark McGowan said the government was committed to diversifying Collie's economy and attracting new, long-term industries to the region.

"Through the Collie Futures Fund, we have secured numerous new projects, including the new Caterpillar training facility (which will bring hundreds of visitors to the town), the $10 million Collie Adventure Trails plan (to establish Collie as WA's premier 'trail adventure' town), and the $8 million for a new DFES multi-purpose bushfire facility in Collie. These projects would not have not come to Collie without the help of the fund," he said.

"At this point, approximately 360 construction and ongoing jobs are expected to be created from the Collie Futures Fund and the Collie Industry Attraction and Development Fund.

"A number of other projects are currently under active consideration, which are expected to add further jobs to the Collie economy.

"The Liberals have done nothing for Collie, and everyone knows it. They are yet to announce a single policy to assist the town. They are completely missing in action when it comes to Collie."

Collie-Preston MLA Mick Murray said he and the government have fought tooth-and-nail to assist the town, over the past three years.

"A very important part of the criteria to receiving funding from either of these programs is an ability to sustain long-term job projects, and due diligence is taking place to ensure that," he said.

"Boosting tourism is about providing opportunities for existing small businesses and entrepreneurs to capitalise in a way that is sustainable - and there is well-publicised assistance available for those wanting to do that."