Aug 13, 2018

Private Members’ Business – Roads – Monday, 13 August 2018

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (13:01): I’m pleased to follow the almost comedic contribution of the mover of this motion, the member for Tangney. It is more a fantasy than a motion. I move the following amendment:

That all words after paragraph (1) be omitted and the following be inserted:

(a) there is no actual funding allocated in the 2018-19 federal budget for the construction of the Perth Freight Link;

(b) the community rejected construction of this project when it elected the McGowan Labor Government in Western Australia with a record majority;

(c) the Federal Government announced funding for the project despite the Barnett Liberal Government’s Parliamentary Secretary for Transport Jim Chown admitting that “we have not actually got design plans that are worthy of public scrutiny”; and

(d) the opposition to the Perth Freight Link was based on the lack of proper planning and the adverse environmental impact it would have, most notably on the Beeliar Wetlands; and

(2) calls on the Commonwealth Government to:

(a) provide increased financial support to the Western Australian Government’s METRONET urban rail project;

(b) work with the Western Australian Government to identify rail and traffic management strategies to expedite freight movement around the current Fremantle Port facilities; and

(c) work with the Western Australian Government to identify and develop future projects that will best meet the State’s long-term infrastructure needs, including a second port at Kwinana, and that those projects be supported by fully developed Business Cases that are submitted to Infrastructure Australia for assessment.

In the government’s first budget they ripped out a whole host of funding that had been allocated for public transport. That included half a billion dollars for public transport projects in Perth as well as funding for the Melbourne Metro, the Cross River Rail project and others. But in WA on budget night even the Barnett government were shocked by this announcement about a project that hadn’t been advocated by them, for which there was no business case, for which there was no route, for which there was no environmental impact statement and which Infrastructure Australia hadn’t even heard of up to that point.

I had been the infrastructure minister for the previous six years. I worked with the WA Liberal government constructively. We advanced plans and projects like Gateway WA, the Swan Valley bypass, Perth City Link, the Great Northern Highway and the North West Coastal Highway—a range of projects right around the great state of Western Australia. Not one of the ministers or premiers I met with ever said, ‘How about we build something called the Perth Freight Link?’ The WA Liberal government didn’t even know what it was when it was announced on budget night. It had no business case. Its EIS had already, upon examination for Roe 8, been rejected.

In June 2014, just weeks after the announcement, the then WA parliamentary secretary for transport, Jim Chown, said in WA’s standing committee on estimates:

The commonwealth has a propensity to make these announcements, as you well know, but … at this stage we have not actually got design plans that are worthy of public scrutiny, as the director has stated.

This was a government that came to office saying that all projects worth $100 million or more would be approved only after they’d been to Infrastructure Australia. Here you have the state government saying that they had no design plans worthy of any scrutiny whatsoever. Although it was promoted as a way to take trucks to the port of Fremantle, planning had been so inadequate and hurried that the road would have stopped three kilometres short of the port. So, allegedly, it was about fixing congestion at the port, but it just didn’t go there. This is a great example of how hopeless, inadequate and incompetent this government has been when it comes to infrastructure.

Government members interjecting

Mr ALBANESE: Now they come in here and they say, ‘We’ve still got the money’—except it isn’t there.

A government member: It is there.

Mr ALBANESE: It is not there. For which years?

A government member interjecting

Mr ALBANESE: So they concede that it’s not there at all. There are no dollars there. There is no funding, and it’s a road to nowhere. 

(Time expired)