Melville Mayor Russell Aubrey delighted with Government’s decision to sign Roe 8 contracts this week

Russell Aubrey (centre) at a panel debate about Perth Freight Link earlier this year with Kwinana Mayor Carol Adams and Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt.
Russell Aubrey (centre) at a panel debate about Perth Freight Link earlier this year with Kwinana Mayor Carol Adams and Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt.

MELVILLE Mayor Russell Aubrey has branded the State Government’s announcement to sign Roe 8 contracts the “best birthday present of my life”.

Mr Aubrey turned 63 yesterday, the same day Premier Colin Barnett revealed construction on a 5km extension of Roe Highway, from the Kwinana Freeway intersection to Stock Road, would likely begin in December.

“I’ve been waiting 15 years for this and it’s now a done deal so I will be celebrating big time,” Mr Aubrey said.

“I’ve made a commitment to Melville’s residents to deliver the Perth Freight Link so it is fantastic to know the first part of the project has been signed off on.”

The announcement came despite the prospect of a High Court challenge to Roe 8’s environmental approvals, which the State Government revealed it views as highly unlikely to succeed.

Mr Aubrey said both Roe 8 and 9 were critical infrastructure projects for the City of Melville that made environmental, social and financial sense.

“The Perth Freight Link is a golden goose that is laying golden eggs everywhere,” he said.

“If both Roe 8 and 9 are built we’ll have 2400 people employed which will generate $10 million for the local economy over the next four or five years and the eventual toll road will generate $100 million a year for the Department of Transport.

“We also significantly reduce congestion on local roads and avoid the destruction of Cockburn Sound that would come with a new outer harbour.”

PERTH FREIGHT LINK LOOMS AS KEY ELECTION ISSUE

WHILE Opposition Leader Mark McGowan stopped short of promising Labor would rip up the Roe 8 contracts if elected next year, the future of the Perth Freight Link is shaping as a major battleground ahead of the polls in March.

Mr McGowan slammed the State Government for its “irresponsible and arrogant decision” while Greens Senator Scott Ludlam predicted the move would cost Colin Barnett the election.

The Melville Times contacted the Liberal and Labor candidates for the seats of Bateman and Bicton for their reaction to the news.

Dean Nalder, Liberal Member for Alfred Cove (Will contest the seat of Bateman)

“I welcome the announcement to begin construction of the Roe 8 project.

“As a local member, I have been a strong supporter and campaigned for Roe 8 which is critical for the southern metropolitan area.

“Roe 8 will dramatically reduce congestion for surrounding roads and highways, reduce risk of accidents at intersections between trucks and cars, provide an arterial connection to Fremantle and Kwinana and has been designed to have minimal impact on the environment with considerable offsets established.”

Tomas Fitzgerald, Labor candidate for the seat of Bateman

“I’m genuinely surprised that the Liberal Party are persisting with such a terrible decision.

“I had hoped that a new Transport Minister might bring some objectivity and perspective; which has been sorely lacking in this area.

“Sadly, the WA Liberals are doubling down on a bad policy for base political reasons.

“The financial and environmental consequences of this decision will be disastrous.

“It defies comprehension that the Liberals would put WA on the line for significant costs while the High Court appeal to the recent Supreme Court case is still pending.

“It is sadly symptomatic of the dysfunction and mismanagement that has landed us in the disastrous financial position we are in today.

“Our message is clear; don’t sign the contracts. The government has no mandate to build this road. They should do the responsible thing for once, take it to the election and let the people decide.

“Regarding voiding, without seeing the proposed contracts I couldn’t, responsibly, rule anything in or out.

“Labor has a comprehensive alternative to Perth Freight Link, a real vision for the future of Western Australia.

“That vision is a new outer harbour at Kwinana, linked to an integrated transport plan that will ease traffic congestion and create thousands of jobs.

“That plan also includes revolutionising South Quay at Fremantle into a world-class cruise ship port with commercial and tourism operations. This will have real benefits for the State’s economy and will drive jobs.”

Lisa O’Mally, Labor candidate for the seat of Bicton

“It is deeply disappointing that the Barnett Government has taken this step so close to an election.

“They should let the people decide at the next election; this is nothing short of economic vandalism.

“It is classic Colin Barnett, arrogant and irresponsible. He has no mandate to sign this contract so close to the election.

“Once again he is putting millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money at risk by signing contracts when the project is facing a potential High Court challenge.

“WA Labor is demanding that he pull back from signing contracts, do the responsible thing for once, take it to the election and let the people decide.

“Labor has put forward a comprehensive alternative to deal with freight in WA.

“Our clear commitment is to build an outer harbour at Kwinana with suitable road and rail links. The outer harbour is a sensible option that will meet our freight and transport needs for decades to come.

“My thoughts right now are with the residents of Moody Glen and surrounding streets in Palmyra, who are again left guessing whether their homes will be bulldozed for whatever the next stage of the Perth Freight Link might be.

It shows just how flawed this project is. The focus now has to be fighting this reckless decision by the Barnett Government, and I stand side-by-side with those residents.”

Matt Taylor, Liberal Member for Bateman (Will contest the seat of Bicton)

“In line with electorate sentiment, I fully support the construction of Roe 8 because of the enormous triple bottom line benefits it will produce.

“Economically, its construction will create 500 direct and thousands of indirect jobs.

“In use, heavy freight operators will save up to $22 per Roe 8 trip with a percentage of that financial benefit being returned to the government to pay off the construction costs.

“Socially, it will improve safety for all road users by removing 6900 trucks and 74,000 vehicles per day from South Street, Leach Highway, Farrington Road and other local roads to a dedicated free flowing route.

“The Roe 8 project will also create enhanced recreation, access and amenity in and around the area.

“Environmentally, $45 million will be invested to specifically accommodate environmental sensitivities and area improvements.

“Roe 8 has been re-aligned to be constructed using a low-impact top down methodology on land largely already cleared for high power lines and Hope Road will be removed and replaced further from Bibra Lake with 200m of wetland bridges allowing improved ecological connection for hydrology and local fauna.

“This eighth stage extension of Roe Highway has been planned for over 50 years now and I am proud that this Liberal National Government is finally constructing this important piece of regional infrastructure that will provide our local community with great benefits for a very long time.”