WA premier Colin Barnett is alienating his electorate by pushing for the Perth Freight Link and risks a backlash at the next poll, warns former Cottesloe mayor John Hammond.
The colourful lawyer was one of the speakers at a packed-out public meeting about the link at the Fremantle Town Hall on Tuesday evening. Screens had to be erected in Kings Square because not all the 550-strong crowd could fit inside.
Mr Hammond now heads the Cottesloe Residents’ and Ratepayers Association, which hosted its own session about the link recently after a Curtin University report indicated the link will push heavier traffic north of Fremantle.
“Going by the attitudes of the residents who attended our last meeting about the freight link, many people won’t be voting Liberal,” Mr Hammond told the Herald.
Most speakers called for the Barnett government to replace the $1.6b link option (they’re now arguing the true figure is $2b to get it over the Swan river) with an outer port in Kwinana and light rail.
Federal Perth Labor MP Alannah MacTiernan says it would return more than eight per cent return for every dollar invested.
In front of Tuesday’s crowd, Chris Cain from the North Freo-based Australian Maritime Union sent his own message to the premier: “You’re out of business, sunshine.
“We’re coming for you at the next election,” he said to audience cheers. “Let’s build an outer harbour.”
Greens senator Scott Ludlam likened the current protest to the US city of Portland, where communities in 1974 helped defeat a freeway that was already fully-funded and nearing construction.
A light rail system was installed instead and now Portland is one of the most-livable cities in the US, Sen Ludlam says.
Cottesloe councillor Sally Pyvis is having another crack at getting her council to formally oppose the link, after a failed attempt by Cr Jack Walsh last month.
“There’s increasing opposition to it now, Cr Pyvis said.
“Especially now with a local residents’ group on board.
Transport Minister Dean Nalder told the media this week the government plans to save money on the project by selling the toll collected to a superannuation company.
He says this means it “won’t cost the state a cent”.
by EMMIE DOWLING