MAKING the foothills a destination, not just a departure point, is the vision being spruiked by Liberal incumbent Nathan Morton and Labor challenger Stephen Price as they pitch their cases to win the pivotal marginal seat of Forrestfield ahead of the State Election .
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA (CCI WA) partnered with the Hills Gazette to give local business owners the opportunity to put questions to the candidates who laid out their agendas on a range of issues from the sale of Western Power to deregulating trading hours and abolishing payroll tax.
CCI WA advocacy director Cath Langmead said there were stark policy differences between the two major parties and voters had witnessed a true battle of ideas play out in recent weeks.
“Nowhere is this battle more evident than right here in Forrestfield,” she said.
“A Liberal seat by a slim margin of 2.2 per cent and CCI WA analysis shows this seat is a key battleground for the campaign.
“With a population of just under 35,000, Forrestfield’s total economic output is around $6.5 billion, with most of the local labour force travelling outside the electorate for work.”
Ms Langmead said while Forrestfield business owners were happy with the $2 billion Forrestfield-Airport Link, growth was being constrained by government red tape and a lack of interaction between state and federal government departments.
Mr Morton said the Forrestfield-Airport Link was a once-in-a-lifetime transformational project for the foothills.
“It is a jewel in the crown in terms of infrastructure and we need to ensure the development is a world class project that will drive jobs growth and provide the same level of amenities for the foothills and hills that other suburbs like Joondalup and Subiaco have taken for granted,” he said.
Meanwhile Mr Price, a former Australian Workers’ Union secretary, said Forrestfield had a bright future and WA Labor was committed to completing the Forrestfield-Airport Link.
“This area needs to become a destination, not a departure place,” he said.
“We have to create opportunities for people to work and live here.
“It is important the Shire of Kalamunda engages the community and uses the next three years to develop the area appropriately.”
Mr Morton agreed it was vital to get the train precinct right.
“This is my local community and I don’t want a dud,” he said.
“This project is like a blank canvas and we don’t want to miss or mess up this opportunity.”
Mr Morton added while the train station was located in High Wycombe, not Forrestfield, the Public Transport Authority would run public consultation over the future naming of the new station.