Strong case for harbour over link: Perth Freight Link

Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development’s  Roland Pittar and John Benac at the inquiry last week.
Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development’s Roland Pittar and John Benac at the inquiry last week.

GREENS Senator Scott Ludlam believes an inquiry into funding for the Perth Freight Link (PFL) has thrown up enough evidence to demolish any case for the project.

A Senate inquiry into the $1.65 billion toll road was held in Fremantle last week, with evidence from the hearing to be tabled for a report in November

Senator Ludlam believed a strong push towards a plan for an overflow harbour in Cockburn Sound could be made.

“We’ve got a good collection of reports that I think demolishes the case for the Perth Freight Link and makes a more coherent case than I thought we had for the outer harbour and the infrastructure that will be needed to support that,” he said.

Cockburn, Fremantle and East Fremantle councils all argued the PFL should be scrapped so the preparation on a second harbour could begin.

Infrastructure Australia has not previously considered an outer harbour because no referrals had been submitted to them.

Mr Ludlam said local governments could prepare an outer harbour proposal, although a report would be costly and time-consuming.

“The councils are balancing up their resources,” he said.

“I will talk to them about whether it’s worth putting a referral given the degree of consensus that we heard on Wednesday.”

The State Government did not send a representative to the inquiry and the fight for the road extension linking Roe Highway to the Fremantle port was left to the City of Melville, the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development and Infrastructure Australia.

Melville’s corporate services director Marten Teileman said the majority of residents were in favour of the PFL, but admitted “The City hasn’t done one (a community survey) specifically on the extension of Roe 8”.

The route from Stirling Bridge into Fremantle has not been finalised but representatives for the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development maintained the project was the result of long-term planning.

Other things yet to be finalised included toll rates, expected to be about 30c per kilometre for trucks able to carry containers, maintenance and operation costs, and whether truck drivers would be tolled for the life of the road.