Perth Freight Link: Mayors state cases about controversial road at forum

Mayors Carol Adams (Kwinana), Russell Aubrey (Melville) and Brad Pettitt (Fremantle) met for a panel debate about Perth Freight Link this morning.
Mayors Carol Adams (Kwinana), Russell Aubrey (Melville) and Brad Pettitt (Fremantle) met for a panel debate about Perth Freight Link this morning.

MELVILLE Mayor Russell Aubrey emphasised that removing traffic, not freight, from local roads was the major benefit of Roe 8 and 9 during an impassioned defence of the Perth Freight Link (PFL) project during a panel debate this morning.

Joining Mr Aubrey at the FutureNet event were fellow mayors Carol Adams (Kwinana) and Brad Pettitt (Fremantle), both of whom remain opposed to the controversial road.

Flying the flag for the PFL, Mr Aubrey said once complete, Roe 8 would remove 80,000 daily traffic movements from the surrounding road network, of which just 3000 would be trucks.

He argued that while construction of an Outer Harbour at Kwinana may reduce the volume of truck movements through the City of Melville, projected growth in population density meant the PFL would remain a vital infrastructure priority, particularly as it would ease mounting congestion around Fiona Stanley Hospital.

Mr Aubrey maintained his stance that an Outer Harbour would not receive EPA approval and that an expansion and automation of Fremantle Port was the better option.

Dr Pettitt said the City of Fremantle was opposed to expanding the port and viewed the area on the southern side of the harbour – much of which is an extensive car park – as a valuable land parcel begging for development.

He conceded that the Coalition Government’s victory at the Federal Election meant Roe 8 would almost certainly go ahead as planned but said the rest of the nearly $1.9 billion committed to the project would be better spent on public transport.

He also called for a cost-benefit analysis of both the PFL and the Outer Harbour and said that if the PFL was found to be the better option he would throw his support behind the project.

Cr Adams labelled the PFL “sub-optimal” and said a hostile Senate could still refuse to release funds for Roe 8.

She conceded a fully completed Outer Harbour carried a hefty $6 billion price tag but said it would bring long-term jobs to a Kwinana region that is struggling with high unemployment.

She also said an Outer Harbour capable of accommodating Capesize ships, the largest dry cargo ships in the world, would open up WA to new trade opportunities.

McTiernan expects State Government to appeal AAT decision

Former Perth MHR Alannah MacTiernan has been granted access to 75 government documents containing details of the $1.9 billion Perth Freight Link by the Administrative Appeal Tribunal (AAT).

The Government has a month to appeal the decision before the documents, which detail communications between Main Roads WA and the Federal Department of Infrastructure (FDoI), are released to Ms MacTiernan.

“Perhaps Premier (Barnett) will put in an appeal thinking it will give him 12-14 months to sing the link’s contracts, but I hope not,” Ms MacTiernan said last week.

The former State planning minister lodged an FOI request for the documents in 2014.

The State and Federal government’s defence of the request included claims the documents’ release would compromise the Main Roads-FDoI working relationship, reveal in-confidence information and negatively affect gathering data from other parties during future projects.

Handing down the AAT decision, senior member Chelsea Walsh decided the governments’ arguments against releasing the documents was “too broad” and said descriptions of what they contained to warrant them being kept from the public were not specific enough.

Ms MacTiernan contests the PFL was a Canberra politicians’ “thought bubble” to fill WA’s ailing budget gap and help sell Fremantle Port, while halting 30 years of planning for a complementary outer port in Kwinana.

“If we don’t have the right spending now we won’t be able to complete the outer harbour, and that will affect our economy in the future,” she said.