Political tug-of-war brews over funding for Mitchell Fwy extension to Romeo Rd

Federal and State MPs are clashing over funding the Mitchell Freeway extension to Romeo Road. Picture: Martin Kennealey d473445
Federal and State MPs are clashing over funding the Mitchell Freeway extension to Romeo Road. Picture: Martin Kennealey d473445

FUNDING for the Mitchell Freeway extension to Romeo Road is centre of a political tug-of-war between Federal and State politicians this week.

Pearce MHR Christian Porter called on the State Government to explain why the State Budget had not matched $108 million allocated for the project in the Federal Budget.

“Other projects jointly funded by the Federal Liberal Government’s $3.2 billion infrastructure investment have State funding allocated in the State Budget – but not the Mitchell Freeway extension,” he said.

“There are a whole range of projects that are nowhere near as advanced as the freeway north extension and where the State Government business cases are not yet finalised, but those projects appear in the State Budget.

“The funding for the Mitchell Freeway should be in the budget right now and construction should start straight away.”

Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said the State Government welcomed the 50 per cent contribution towards the project, but it did not make up for WA’s low GST share.

“This project is one of many major road projects the State Government has agreed to undertake, however we want further Commonwealth funding,” she said.

“We would like a Commonwealth contribution of 80 per cent towards our major road projects – the State Government will start negotiating these cash flows and timing of the project with the Commonwealth.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and WA Premier Mark McGowan at the major jobs and infrastructure boost for WA announcement at Yagan Square in Perth last month. Picture: David Baylis d482222

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Mr Porter said the Federal Government had recognised the freeway extension beyond Hester Avenue was a “critical” project by committing funding late last month.

“The people in our northern suburbs know that the extension of the Mitchell Freeway to Romeo Road is utterly critical,” he said.

“It appears that the State Labor Government does not understand the critical needs in our northern suburbs.”

Ms Saffioti said the State Government was dealing with a “legacy of debt” from its Liberal predecessors and the Federal Government should provide a fairer share of funding for the project.

“The Mitchell Freeway extension to Romeo Road is an important project for WA’s road network,” she said.

“(It) will complement the other major congestion-busting projects we have underway in the outer northern suburbs, like our major upgrades on Wanneroo Road and Marmion Avenue.

“In the meantime, we have a series of freeway upgrades, along with the expansion of the rail network through Metronet, that will help ease congestion, create jobs and improve transport connectivity.”

Those projects include $15 million to widen the Mitchell Freeway northbound from Hutton Street to Cedric Street in 2019-20 and $40 million to widen the freeway southbound between Cedric and Vincent streets from 2018 to 2020.

Debate about the funding also arose in State Parliament on Wednesday when Opposition leader Mike Nahan asked why the State Budget and forward estimates did not include State contributions to match the Federal Government’s $3.2 billion infrastructure funding.

State Treasurer Ben Wyatt said the Federal funds would flow through to about 2024, beyond the State’s four-year forward estimates.

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