Kalbarri workers accommodation in limbo as builder suspends operations

The State Government’s preferred proponent to deliver a 56-person workers accommodation facility in Kalbarri has suspended operations in WA, leaving the future of the project in doubt.

Shadow Tourism Minister Merome Beard MLA expressed deep concerns about the status of the development, which was intended to ease housing pressures for vital workers in the popular tourist town.

“Last August, the State Government announced Petra Westkey as the preferred proponent to construct a multi-user workforce accommodation facility in Kalbarri,” Ms Beard said.

“Alarm bells began to ring as we approached the one-year mark since the project was announced, with no signs of action, and the Minister for Lands opting for radio silence, declining to shed light on the project status or delivery timelines.”

Ms Beard said the project was a key election commitment from the Labor Government, and the response provided by the Minister during Question Time was disconcerting.

“For the Minister to appear to have no knowledge that the State Government’s hand-picked contractor being unable to deliver this project is preposterous,” Ms Beard said.

“The Opposition has asked many questions about the Kalbarri workers accommodation over the past year, and the Minister should well and truly have this project on his radar and be capable of providing a coherent answer about the status of this project.

“The people of Kalbarri have anxiously awaited this project for several years. It’s high time the Minister provided a truthful and forthright account about the future of this development and whether the Government intends to honour its promise.”

Shadow Minister for Emergency Services, Hon Martin Aldridge MLC, said he had repeatedly tried to contact Petra Westkey over the past several months to seek a project update.

“Despite a barrage of unanswered emails, attempts to contact Petra Westkey unveiled their phones on mute, and the lone forwarding contact led to a Malaysian office,” Mr Aldridge said.

“Disturbingly, it emerged a branch of Petra Westkey entered liquidation earlier this year, and an email provided to my office confirmed the builder was undergoing restructuring and had suspended operations in WA.”

Mr Aldridge accused the Minister of taking his eye off the ball, and said it was alarming the builder’s status had not been disclosed prior to the Opposition revealing it in Parliament.

“This project was identified as a key priority to help the Kalbarri community with their recovery after Cyclone Seroja more than two years ago – yet this Government fumbles and flounders in even doing their due diligence with their chosen builder,” Mr Aldridge said.

“Off the back of a failed Cyclone Seroja recovery which saw less than 10 per cent of promised funding dispersed, this Government continues to prove they can’t be trusted to support Kalbarri with its recovery.”