PREMIER Colin Barnett is working towards starting the controversial Roe 8 section of the proposed $1.8 billion Perth Freight Link (PFL) before the New Year despite opponents taking the project to the High Court of Australia next week.
“So the project is going ahead, and construction will start some time this month, I hope,” Mr Barnett told the Western Suburbs Weekly.
Save Beeliar Wetlands and PFL opponents are scheduled to ask the court on December 16 for leave to appeal their complaint about Roe 8 destroying Beeliar wetlands from Roe Highway to Stock Road.
If successful, the appeal could be heard by the High Court in Canberra.
The opponents’ initial success in the WA Supreme Court was overturned by the WA Court of Appeal at the end of last year, giving new impetus to the Government’s plans that continued with surveyors on the site yesterday.
“I don’t know whether the High Court will listen to their complaint or not, and if they do it’s not likely to come up for months, so in the meantime Roe 8 will be under construction,” Mr Barnett said.
He rebuffed that acceptance of the leave to appeal could benefit his forthcoming bid for a third premiership after the March State Election by removing the Roe 8 issue, and any associated protests, from the campaign.
“There’s some protest, there’s some media, but it’s not volatile,” he said.
Roe 8 had been the “number one” issue in the southern suburbs at the last election and his Liberal Party still had swings to it.
Save Beeliar Wetlands convenor Kate Kelly said she thought Mr Barnett’s Government was “quite serious” about starting Roe 8 construction this month because it was asking the Department of Parks and Wildlife to remove animals.
Ms Kelly said the Government should take away its surveyors until the protected rainbow bee-eater birds in Roe 8’s corridor had stopped nesting about late February.
“If the High Court decides not to give us special leave then there are still other legal options to use, and we are looking at the conditions in the Government’s management plans, including its omissions,” she said.