City of Melville forced to defend pro-Perth Freight Link stance

Melville Mayor Russell Aubrey in front of a vandalised Roe 8 sign.
Melville Mayor Russell Aubrey in front of a vandalised Roe 8 sign.

THE City of Melville has been forced to defend its pro-Perth Freight Link advertising campaign in the face of intense criticism.

In July 2015 Melville council directed the chief executive Shayne Silcox to allocate up to $50,000 for a “public information campaign” supporting Roe 8 and in December last year another $50,000 was put aside for the same reason.

In 2004, $300,000 was allocated to convince the State Government to reinstate the Fremantle Eastern Bypass – part of the original planning for the Roe Highway route.

Both Rethink the Link convenor Kim Dravnieks and Socialist Alliance senate candidate Sam Wainwright criticised the City for spending ratepayers’ money on the contentious issue.

MORE: Danny Green slams Ellenbrook pub fight 

MORE: $100 million performing arts centre touted for Joondalup 

MORE: Photos of bird of prey giving Trigg locals a fishing lesson

Ms Dravnieks, a Melville resident, said the City continued to act in complete disregard of an August 2015 special electors’ motion demanding support for the project be withdrawn.

“Melville council really does not have a leg to stand on and continually refuses to take the views of its electors into account on this issue,” she said.

“What is the point of spending this latest round of money when the contracts have already been signed?”

Mr Wainwright, who is also a Fremantle councillor, cast doubt on some of the claims made by the City’s “Fact versus Fiction” campaign. “The City of Melville says no more freight can be put on to rail because 95 per cent of containers are unpacked in the Perth region,” he said.

“It deliberately passes over maps published by Fremantle Port that show that two-thirds of those containers are unpacked in areas traversed by the existing railway line.”

Mr Wainwright also disagreed with the notion that the PFL was vital to remove traffic from other roads to allow new public transport infrastructure, such as light rail on South Street.

“This is absurd clap-trap. The phenomenon of induced demand means that we can never build our way out of congestion,” he said.

Melville Mayor Russell Aubrey shot back, stating Mr Wainwright had not provided factual evidence to back his claims.

“Mr Wainwright’s assertions are not supported by Main Roads or the Port Authority’s professional analysis of these issues,” he said.

“The Greg Martin Transport Report commissioned and accepted by a number of local councils including Fremantle, Cockburn and Melville makes it clear what the social, economic and environmental impacts of failing to complete Roe Highway will be.

“It is also important to understand that approximately 75 per cent of Melville electors voted for candidates who supported the construction of Roe Highway in the October 2015 local government elections.”