Mar 7, 2017

Perth Freight Link work damages environment

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull must ask the Barnett Government to immediately halt work on the Perth Freight Link after a Senate committee heard evidence of serious repeated breaches to environmental guidelines in its construction.

The Coalition should also heed the committee’s call for an inquiry into this dud project by the Australian National Audit Office.

WA’s embattled Barnett Government is building the Perth Freight Link through the environmentally sensitive Beeliar Wetlands. The Commonwealth is contributing funding, even though the toll road will not even deliver on its stated aim of taking freight to the Port of Fremantle – stopping 3km short.

In a report tabled today the Senate’s Environment and Communications committee said it had heard evidence that work on the project had “repeatedly and in serious ways’’ breached environmental guidelines and that these breaches were having “profound consequences, not only for the health of the natural environment, but also for the health of communities that live near the Roe 8 works’’.

The Prime Minister must take this report seriously and halt works pending an investigation to ensure contractors are abiding by conditions of approval.

The future of the Perth Freight Link has become a key issue in the campaign for Saturday’s WA state election, with the Commonwealth insisting that if Labor wins, it will withdraw $1.2 billion in infrastructure investment from WA.

It is of real concern that the works under way are outside the conditions of approval and have damaged the environment. Labor strongly supports the ANAO examining the Perth Freight Link. Previous inquiries have been highly critical of the lack of proper process surrounding two other Coalition-funded toll road projects – Melbourne’s East West Link and Sydney’s Westconnex.