TREASURER Mike Nahan has slammed councils south of the river for “playing politics” by banding together to call for action on a land-backed Outer Harbour proposed by the City of Kwinana.
The Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale and cities of Armadale, Cockburn, Kwinana, Rockingham, and the Town of East Fremantle formed the Southern Corridor Alliance on Tuesday, November 8.
The Alliance wants planning to start immediately, as the Outer Harbour is predicted to generate more than 70,000 direct and indirect jobs and underpin the region’s economy.
Armadale Mayor Henry Zelones said the impact of the Outer Harbour as a way to provide immediate employment opportunities for the fast-growing region had led to Southern Corridor councils joining forces.
WA Labor agrees the Outer Harbour should be a priority and has promised to allocate $20 million to complete the planning as part of a long-term integrated transport plan for the State.
A taskforce would determine the exact location of the harbour and the project would seek federal and private investment.
But Dr Nahan said the Outer Harbour would cost $3 billion to $5 billion and not be required for at least 15 years, probably much longer.
It had always been considered an overflow port, allowing the Inner Harbour to continue to operate.
“If the State paid for that Outer Harbour prematurely, it would be forced to substantially increase charges at the port, which would not only put workers’ jobs at risk but waste taxpayers’ money.
“I am also very concerned that the councils that represent the communities adjacent to Cockburn Sound appear to be largely ignoring a major environmental impact on their community, despite the well-documented advice from the Environmental Protection Authority.
“It is time that the councils stopped playing politics, looked after their community and their most important environmental asset, and considered the future of the port appropriately and based on the expert advice.”
Kwinana Mayor Carol Adams, who has previously run for a State seat, said the State Government had ignored calls from various sectors for focus to urgently shift to the Outer Harbour and she said the City of Kwinana proposal for a land-backed port had less environmental impact than the preferred State Government’s option of an island port.
Ms Adams said an Outer Harbour would provide capacity more than three times that of the Fremantle Inner Harbour, and sale of land in the Inner Harbour and Western Trade Coast for residential and commercial use could offset the need to raise user charges.
For more information on the proposed Outer Harbour, see http://indianoceangateway.com.au.