Labor ramps up port sale protest

LABOR is ramping up its opposition to the privatisation of Fremantle’s port, with leader Mark McGowan visiting the city this week with a vow to fight it all the way.

Mr McGowan told the Herald privatisation of ports over east has driven up prices and increased container traffic on surrounding roads.

And he warns it’ll be worse in WA because the port is a monopoly.

“If you privatise you give a profit-driven operator a free run, whereas over east they have the pressure of competing with other ports,” he says.

“And in Fremantle, 80 per cent of trade is imports, and what that means is that these big increases in charges and costs of capital will be passed on to consumers.”

• Opposition leader Mark McGowan and Fremantle MP Simone McGurk say Labor will use every blocking move it can to slow down the sale of Freo port. Photo by Steve Grant

• Opposition leader Mark McGowan and Fremantle MP Simone McGurk say Labor will use every blocking move it can to slow down the sale of Freo port. Photo by Steve Grant

Mr McGowan says premier Colin Barnett should put the sale on hold and take it to the 2017 election to get a mandate, noting he’d ruled out privatisation before the 2013 election.

He says the Opposition will use every blocking move available, including trying to get the sale referred to parliamentary committees for scrutiny. He reckons there’s some hope of getting support from the Nationals, who at last week’s state conference gave privatisation only conditional support.

Nationals MPs face pressure from their farming constituents who are strongly opposed, especially after the privatisation of freight rail caused a huge stink.

Meanwhile, Mr Barnett met with his North Fremantle constituents Tuesday (they’re on the southern edge of his Cottesloe electorate) to defend his commitment to the Perth Freight Link.

He says supporters of a new harbour in Kwinana fail to take into account it will take 10 years to build and will only be an overflow from Fremantle for several years after that, and that will mean chaos on local roads unless the link is completed.

He says the controversial route through the Beeliar wetlands will go ahead as scheduled but his government won’t hurry to decide the next section until its sure it’s got the best—and least disruptive—route.

by STEVE GRANT

35 PLC 10x7

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