High Court appeal on Roe 8: Labor, Greens urge WA Government not to sign off on project

Federal Member for Fremantle Josh Wilson.
Federal Member for Fremantle Josh Wilson.

WA and Federal Labor have called for the State Government to hold off on signing any contracts for the construction of the Perth Freight Link, in the face of a possible High Court challenge.

The Barnett Government scored a win last month, with the Supreme Court overturning a decision that declared environmental approvals for the project invalid.

But the group ‘Save Beeliar Wetlands’ announced they would try to challenge that decision in the High Court.

The group’s convenor, Kate Kelly, said it was “fiscally irresponsible to sign any contracts” while it was unsure if work could proceed.

“Beeliar Wetlands are beautiful, unique, irreplaceable,” Ms Kelly said on Friday morning.

“That is why today we are filing an application to seek special leave to continue to challenge the Roe 8 environmental approvals in the High Court.”

Speaking at the launch of the Perth Transport Plan last month, of which Roe 8 and the Perth Freight Link were key components, Transport Minister Dean Nalder said he expected work to commence on the project by the end of the year, unless anything emerged from “left field”.

WA Labor’s Chris Tallentire, Shadow Minister for the Environment, said he was confident the High Court appeal would be successful.

“While it’s going before the High Court it would be financially reckless and irresponsible for the Barnett Government to contemplate signing any contract documents,” Mr Tallentire said.

“We call on the Barnett Government to not sign any contracts until this legal process has run its full course.

“I’m very confident that when the High Court hears about the various issues at stake here … the legal ramifications of government agencies, independent statutory authorities ignoring their own policy documents, ignoring all of the submissions the public made on this proposal, they will then realise that this project should not be allowed to proceed at all.”

Federal member for Fremantle Josh Wilson said Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull should visit Beeliar wetlands to see the “critical environmental asset” at risk.

“He should feel an obligation to do that,” Mr Wilson said.

“We know this project is environmentally unacceptable, it’s also economically unacceptable.

“It would be the most expensive road project in Western Australia’s history, the first privately operated toll road.

“It would be reckless in the extreme for an ailing State Government, in the shadow of a state election to rush into signing these contracts.

“It would be one of the most reckless and derelict acts of a State Government in recent memory.

“This is a project that came out of nowhere, it goes to nowhere. The road doesn’t even reach the port.”

Save Beeliar Wetlands has launched a Go Fund Me campaign to help with legal costs. You can visit the page at www.gofundme.com/wetlandslegalfund.