Tuesday, 12 February 2019
Western Australia: Roads
There's $1.2 billion in the federal budget for Western Australia. This money is available right now, ready to fund the construction of Roe 8 and Roe 9. Roe 8 and Roe 9 is the critical missing link in Perth's long-planned highway system. It would be a road that would make my community safer and create jobs. But, instead of fixing congestion, the WA state Labor government refuses to access this federal funding and refuses to build Roe 8 and Roe 9. Not only have Labor backed the noisy protesters over the local community; they're now spitefully and recklessly going further, introducing legislation in the WA parliament to delete the Roe 8 road reserve forever. It's one thing not to access the $1.2 billion in federal funding to build Roe 8 and Roe 9 but it's another thing to spitefully and recklessly delete this road reserve forever, stopping future governments from building this road.
It's not just any local road. This is one of the most critical links between Perth's freeway network and WA's main port of Fremantle. This is Labor lunacy at its best. The land for Roe 8 and Roe 9 was reserved in the Metropolitan Region Scheme in 1963. Labor have calculated that they can change the Metropolitan Region Scheme by legislation to avoid community consultation and delete Roe 8 and Roe 9 by stealth. Legislation skips the usually extensive community consultation process. It skips the Planning Commission's review of all of the community's submissions that would usually be made and skips the Planning Commission's consideration of the merits, real or not, of these changes. Due process normally takes around two years, but Labor want to delete this important road reserve without any important community consultation because they know what the locals in my community think. They don't want to hear that, because it will tell them a very different story to that of the noisy protesters to whom they're listening.
Last week I launched a petition to give my community a voice on this very significant change to Perth's road network. The petition can be found at petition.org.au/Roe8—a petition telling Labor not to delete the Roe 8 road reserve forever and telling Labor to build Roe 8 and Roe 9 to fix local traffic congestion. Over 1,300 people signed the petition in the first few days. They want their message heard by the Labor state government. But the Labor Party has form in this regard. Labor has recklessly deleted key road reserves, like the Fremantle Eastern Bypass, before in WA. Labor sold off the road reserve, causing ongoing local traffic congestion and pushing cars and trucks onto local roads. If Labor does it again with Roe 8 and Roe 9, trucks and cars will have no option in the future but to continue travelling through our suburbs, past homes, past businesses, past schools, past parks and right through the guts of our community.
My community shouldn't be subject to traffic and delays because of Labor's reckless decisions. So you might ask: why are Premier Mark McGowan and WA Labor refusing to access this $1.2 billion in federal government funding to make my community safer and to create jobs in WA? Well, it is going to impact on 0.49 per cent of the Beeliar Regional Park—that is, less than one per cent. Beeliar Regional Park is an interesting mix of wetlands in some parts. Some parts are degraded and some parts have weed filled scrub. In other parts there is a barren easement for the high-voltage power line, where the road was designed to go. There are nice parts of the Beeliar Regional Park, and those nice parts will be made even nicer with the project's $45 million worth of investment in environmental protections, weed control and better access to the public.
The Roe 8 and Roe 9 project would avoid 15 sets of traffic lights for cars and trucks. In fact, 7,000 trucks per day and 74,000 cars per day would avoid those 15 sets of traffic lights, saving 450,000 cubic tonnes of CO2 emissions. I argue that building Roe 8 and Roe 9 has very positive environmental impacts for our community. But critics, including the member for Fremantle, argue that this road isn't needed. Labor believe that the road goes to nowhere—and it is quite unusual for a local member to say they represent a place called 'Nowhere'.
Some believe that Labor were going to shut down the Fremantle port, that they were going to move the industry from the existing Fremantle port to Cockburn Sound. But the Fremantle port is actually here to stay. The Labor Party, despite wanting people to think that the port is moving, said at point 92 of their 2017 policy document that they would 'maintain Fremantle port as an operational port'. And point 94 of their policy document said they would 'improve the management of truck movements to and from the Fremantle port'. Importantly, at point 99 they said they would 'implement the findings of the Fremantle port's truck productivity study to increase the hours and operation of the container parks'. So don't believe for a minute that the WA Labor government was moving the port.
The new port that the community was led to believe would be constructed would require dredging, construction and the removal of seagrass in the Cockburn Sound. These are listed as environmental considerations in Labor's own port study released in December last year. The fine print in that report is quite interesting. The study into the new port, by the Westport Taskforce, is entitled What have we found so far? This is Labor's own report, and it is a report on exactly why Roe 8 and Roe 9 should and must be built. It is a blueprint for why WA Labor should access the $1.2 billion available to build this important road. It confirms again that the Fremantle port is here to stay and that there is plenty of room to grow.
Let me quote from page 28 of this report. In 2017-18 there were just under 770,000 20-foot equivalent units, or containers. Over the long-term containerised trade forecasts, it is to reach 3.1 million containers in 2067-68. Fremantle has the physical capacity, within its existing footprint, to handle a substantial increase of container trade, the report says. On page 41 of the report it says that if the port infrastructure, road and rail linkages are developed and expanded to their optimal capacities, Fremantle, in conjunction with Kwinana and Bunbury, would likely have the capacity to collectively handle the strategic freight needs of WA for the next hundred years.
Labor's report also confirms that key roads to the port will limit the port and limit WA's success unless they are upgraded. Page 6 of the report talks about upgrading and enhancing the existing road and rail networks to unlock the potential of the Fremantle port. With the increased government subsidies, freight by rail is only 16 per cent—84 per cent of freight moved in and out of Fremantle port is by road. According to the report, 90 per cent of that 84 per cent is from the east and south, clogging High Street, Leach Highway, Kwinana Freeway to Roe Highway, and Roe Highway east. Page 5 of the report says that access to the port of Fremantle is under pressure at Leach Highway and Stock Road—and don't we know it. The solution here is to build Roe 8 and Roe 9. Page 38 of this report, a study of Fremantle's land transport and port capacity in 2014, considered the land transport network that was proposed at the time and found that a throughput of around 2.1 million containers could be achieved by major improvements to the land transport network and a number of other measures, like increasing port hours.
What's really infuriating is that the Labor Party know that they're committed to the continuation of Fremantle port but they're cutting off the important project that will see that port remain, that would see 74,000 cars and 7,000 heavy trucks per day taken off local roads in my community. Not only are they not accepting those important funds to build this road; they're actually deleting the road reserve forever, limiting future governments from the construction of the road to service this port. No wonder the MUA in WA has cut loose from the Labor Party state government, because, by building this road, you'd create jobs in a state that needs them most.