Perth Freight Link Traffic Studies Kept Confidential

WA Greens Senator Scott Ludlam.
WA Greens Senator Scott Ludlam.

FEDERAL Government bureaucrats consider State Government traffic studies on how the proposed $1.6 billion Perth Freight Link (PFL) would affect local residents to be ‘commercial in confidence’.

Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development’s Roland Pittar said “yes” when Greens Senator Scott Ludlam asked if commercial in confidence was why questions about the PFL were not answered at a Senate Estimates hearing in Canberra this morning.

The controversial truck route may be delayed for at a least year while the State Government does another environmental study because the Supreme Court found an initial investigation was invalid before Christmas.

Sen Ludlam said that after recent reports, WA taxpayers were concerned about how commercial in confidence was being used by the State Government to avoid further scrutiny of the 16km PFL from Roe Highway to Fremantle Port.

The studies in question referred specifically to how traffic would affect Cottesloe, North Fremantle, East Fremantle and Stock Road traffic.

“This is information from the States, and they’ve undertaken traffic modelling, and we consult with them over the release of the information, and they’ve indicated that that traffic modelling goes to the issues of patronage and is commercial in confidence,” Mr Pittar said.

WA Labor Senator Glenn Sterle was not impressed with Mr Pittar’s answer, calling it “a load of crap” and “with the greatest of respect, what a load of bollocks”.

NSW Liberal Senator Brian Heffernan was concerned the PFL was being proposed to improve the prospects for the sale of Fremantle Port with Darwin Port recently leased to a Chinese company.

“I hope we don’t do what we did in Darwin, where we’re fighting over who owns the South China Sea, but we’ve said to the mob up there ‘Come on down, you can have the harbour for 99 years’,” Sen Heffernan said.

Last week, the Senate voted for the Canberra’s auditor-general to investigate the PFL, its costs and business case.

Minister Assisting the Trade Minister Richard Colbeck said it was outside the roles of Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development staff at the hearing to respond to requests that they co-operate fully with any investigation.

However, the department’s Mark Mrdak said it would work with any request from the auditor-general.