Outcome on Call for a BPACC Referendum

Fast Facts

  • At the City of Busselton Electors Meeting (8/2/2021) a motion was raised to conduct a referendum on the Busselton Performing Arts and Convention Centre (BPACC).
  • At an ordinary meeting of Council (10/3/2021), Councillors considered this motion and resolved not to undertake a referendum and to proceed with the development subject to further consideration of construction tenders once the tender process has closed.
  • Councillors Paine, Carter, Hick, Miles, Henley, Cronin and Barrett-Lennard voted not to proceed with a referendum. Councillor Riccelli voted in support for the motion to hold a referendum (Councillor Kate Cox was an apology for the meeting and did not vote).

At its meeting last night City of Busselton Council resolved not to support the running of a referendum on whether or not development of the Busselton Performing Arts and Convention Centre (BPACC) should proceed as planned.

The call for a referendum was led by the Bay to Bay Action Group and raised as a motion at the 8 February 2021 Electors Meeting. The item was debated by Council and after hearing from parties with an interest, and having considered all the information, Council resolved not to hold a referendum and to proceed with the project as per Council’s previous decision.

Mayor Grant Henley said that the development was based on planning undertaken over a 13 year period and was backed by a strong business plan. “Broad consultation has been undertaken since the project was first included on the City’s Strategic Plan in 2010”, he said. “Council is well informed and has heard from the community.”

Deputy Mayor Kelly Hick reminded those present that Council had already engaged in a deliberative democratic process on the matter. She urged fellow Councillors not to make large infrastructure decisions based on a referendum.

“We are elected to make decisions after extensive community consultation, due diligence and budget assessment. We’ve done the homework, we’ve done the listening and we need to get on with the job we’ve been tasked to”, she said. “A referendum is a blunt tool. It is not definitive nor is it binding. A referendum is non-inclusive and not conclusive. It is, in effect, a pointless exercise.”

Cr Cronin further noted that as a member of the BPACC Working Group, he had spent the last 1.5 years researching the development, undertaking site visits to similar venues and asking the tough questions around viability and potential cost savings.

“Talking to experts in the field we’ve learnt a lot about design and functionality. We were advised to build a multi-purpose centre, to ensure the chairs were comfortable and to build for the view.”

Cr Cronin further noted that since the motion to hold a referendum had been raised, he and other Councillors had received numerous calls and emails from many community groups urging Council to stand by its commitment to develop a dedicated facility for the performing arts. “We have spent so much money on sports facilities, it’s now time to invest in the arts” he said.

Crs Carter, Paine, Miles and Barrett-Lennard echoed this sentiment. Cr Carter further noted that given the City did not go to referendum to progress other large capital developments such as the Busselton Margaret River Airport, the Civic Administration Centre or Busselton Foreshore Redevelopment, there was no precedent to progress with a referendum on the issue of the BPACC.

“We have a strong business case and information about the project has been shared with the community,” he said. “We’ve been waiting for two decades to progress this centre, it’s time to get on with the job.”

Members of the public who addressed Council in favour of not progressing with a referendum asked Council to “make good” on its commitment to return a purpose-built performance centre to the community noting that the original Civic Centre had been lost to office space more than 15 years ago.

While the City has made a decision to progress with the project, a hold point at the end of the tender process exists. Should construction tenders exceed the project budget, Council will re-consider the future of the development. The tender process should be completed by June 2021.

Media enquiries can be directed to the City’s Public Relations Coordinator, Meredith Dixon on 97810446 or meredith.dixon@busselton.wa.gov.au

Objectives outlined in this statement are aligned with Key Goal Area 2 and 6 in the City of Busselton’s Strategic Community Plan (Review 2019): Places and Spaces that are Vibrant, Attractive and Affordable; Leadership that is Visionary, Collaborative and Accessible.

Ends. Media enquiries can be directed to meredith.dixon@busselton.wa.gov.au

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