The old St John of God Hospital site on Spencer Street in Bunbury could be the new home of a State Government department if Labor wins next year’s State Election.
Deputy Opposition Leader Roger Cook visited the site yesterday after meeting the Bunbury Chamber of Commerce and Industries to discuss the potential relocation of the Department of Regional Development and Lands.
Mr Cook said it was one of a “number of sites being considered” but a decision would not be made prior to the election.
He would not be drawn on the location of the alternative sites but said they were “north of the CBD”.
“We want to get an idea of what is possible here in the CBD of Bunbury,’’ Mr Cook said.
“We want to see the economy of Bunbury really moving forward and continuing to play the leading role it does in terms of the South West region. Mr Cook reiterated Opposition Leader Mark McGowan’s statement that Bunbury had the capacity to support a Government agency.
Mr Cook said any population growth in Bunbury resulting from the relocated department would benefit existing infrastructure and could make other projects, such as high speed rail, happen sooner.
“From my experience in the health area and the studies the chamber have done, they’ve said health and education would benefit from having extra demand,” Mr Cook said.
“There’s optimism about the impact this will create in terms of making projects much more viable in the medium term rather than them being in the long term at the moment.”
Bunbury Chamber of Commerce and Industries chief executive Ray Philp said the chamber was pushing for the department to be located within Bunbury’s CBD.
“If that commitment is made, you can imagine the confidence that would come back into the city, it would be absolutely fantastic,” Mr Philp said.
“It’s very important that nobody expects someone to come into government and move a whole department down overnight.”
In recent weeks, both major parties have re-affirmed their commitment to moving the Department of Regional Development and Lands to Bunbury.
Last week Bunbury MLA John Castrilli criticised Mr McGowan for giving the people of Bunbury “false expectations” about moving the whole department to the city at once.
Mr Castrilli said a big influx of people would put “immense pressure on our housing, health and schools”.