THE State Government has ignored calls from political, not-for-profit, business and investment sectors for focus to urgently shift to the outer harbour, according to Kwinana Mayor Carol Adams.
Responding to a call from State Treasurer Mike Nahan for councils to stop “playing politics” with the issue, she said the State Government was putting “party politics ahead of community need”.
Dr Nahan said the outer harbour had been considered an overflow port to Fremantle and was not needed for at least 15 years and would cost up to $5 billion to build.
“It is time 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,” he said.
“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.”
But Cr Adams said the need to give priority to the construction of the project had been identified by a report by the Property Council of Australia and a Senate Inquiry into the decision to fund the Perth Freight Link.
The City of Kwinana joined forces with five other councils to form the Southern Corridor Alliance to lobby for the project to create jobs, attract industries and spur economic growth, with Kwinana having a high unemployment rate.
“This is not a local government playing politics, it is a local government advocating for a commitment towards a strategic infrastructure item that will bring long-term benefits to its region, state and country,” Cr Adams said.
“Despite tremendous support for immediate investment in the outer harbour, backed up by robust, scientific evidence, the government has ignored the long-term needs of WA in favour of a vote-grabbing campaign.
Opposition leader Mark McGowan said the Labor party would allocate $20 million over four years to complete planning for the outer harbour at Kwinana; maintain Fremantle Port as an operational port in public ownership; cap the capacity of Fremantle Port following completion of the outer harbour and implement a co-ordinated transition plan to the outer harbour.
Dr Nahan said the alliance appeared to be ignoring a major environmental impact on their community, despite well-documented advice from the Environmental Protection Authority.
But Cr Adams said a land-backed port had less environmental impact than the preferred State Government option of an island port.