Opinion Piece - Kalgoorlie Miner
16 December 15
The upgrade of the Norseman airstrip would not have been possible without the support of local community.
Last week, we found out the Federal Government will contribute $1.5 million to upgrade the airstrip, which will be supplemented by the support of the Shire of Dundas, who will raise $1.5 million.
When I discovered the Shire had missed out on National Stronger Regions funding, I formed a partnership with them to pursue this issue they have identified as a priority in the area.
Together with Shire of Dundas president Jacquie Best and former chief executive officer Richard Brookes, we formed a plan to promote this issue and garner wider community support to convince the Government to consider the proposal.
We started a social media campaign that included producing a video outlining the need for the airstrip and also collected over 1,000 signatures for a petition.
The Norseman airstrip in its current condition, located 200km from Kalgoorlie-Boulder and Esperance, can be rendered unfit for landing and take-off.
This means if the Royal Flying Doctor Service need to provide emergency medical care, they cannot do so if the weather conditions are unsuitable.
The location of Norseman at the junction of the Goldfields and Esperance Highway and Eyre Highway also makes it a strategic location for emergency service crews dealing with busfires.
That is why we needed the upgrade.
When Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss informed me the community had received the funding last week, we could not have been more elated.
On Friday I visited Norseman to personally congratulate Shire of Dundas president Jacquie Best and chief executive officer Doug Stead on receiving the funding.
The funding was part of the Government’s budget announcement of $33.7 million over four years to provide upgrades for remote community airstrips across Australia.
Given smaller aircraft often service these communities, simple measures such as providing a smooth runway or keeping wildlife and livestock off the airstrip can make all the difference in a safe landing.
The Shire of Laverton also received $213,000 to replace drainage pipes under the runway, and the Ilkurlka community received $57,045 to improve the airstrip surface and replace markers.
I would encourage all community groups to consider applying for any of the wide range of Federal Government grant programmes available.
The National Stronger Regions Fund is a highly competitive fund, with a high standard of applications, with just $293 million allocated for 111 projects across the nation in the most recent round.
The Shire of Dundas did not give up when they missed out on this competitive fund, and I congratulate them on their persistence in finding funding through another means.
This is an outstanding result for a deserving community.