MATT TAYLOR is the state Liberal MP for Bateman and in this week’s THINKING ALLOWED defends the Perth Freight Link.
I AGREE with the federal member for Fremantle Melissa Parke MP (Herald Thinking Allowed, September 5, 2015) that it is vitally important we take this opportunity to focus on a project critical to Perth’s long-term transport network.
I respect Melissa’s passion but cannot let her misleading statements about the Perth Freight Link go without a response.
It is incredibly disappointing that a member of parliament would irresponsibly advocate civil disobedience against a lawful activity.
Melissa and others should read the Criminal Code Amendment (Prevention of Lawful Activity) Bill 2015 currently before the WA parliament, whereby the actions she intends undertaking may attract a penalty of 12 months imprisonment or a fine of $12,000 — and may be doubled in circumstances of aggravation.
It is absurd for Melissa and others to suggest this project was simply “pulled out of the hat of political expediency” given that land has been reserved for Roe Highway since 1963 with bipartisan support, until Labor needed Green preferences to retain Fremantle!
Her federal colleague Alannah MacTiernan MP sold government-owned land (when WA planning and infrastructure minister in 2004) that was reserved to make the final connection to Fremantle Port. This single act has diverted all the trucks and traffic to use Leach Highway (which it was never intended to do) and compounded the congestion and road safety problems now endured across this region.
Melissa did not provide figures, so allow me. Around 60,000 vehicles use sections of Leach Highway every day. Heavy vehicles account for 11.5 per cent of traffic and 11.1 per cent of crashes on this section of road. Seventy-two per cent of accidents on Leach Highway are rear-end collisions compared to the metro average of 43.5 per cent. Where Roe Highway joins the Kwinana Freeway a staggering 31 per cent of crashes involve heavy vehicles. The metro average is 5.4 per cent.
By 2021 there will be a 75 per cent increase of trucks on Leach Highway, and a 110 per cent increase by 2031. Roe 8 will remove an estimated 5000 heavy vehicles per day from the southern urban arterial road network, including 2000 per day from Leach Highway by 2021. Overall congestion will be reduced by around 20,000 vehicles per day from Leach Highway and South Street because Roe 8 be a safer and more efficient route.
Opposition to the Roe Highway extension is based on politics, not logic. The City of Cockburn’s own 2013 traffic study shows that Roe 8 will significantly reduce traffic (in some cases by more than half) on Cockburn roads, including Farrington Road, Beeliar Drive, North Lake Road, Berrigan Drive, and Russell Road.
City of Fremantle residents will also benefit significantly from improved access to and from the freeway and suburbs in the east in addition to less trucks on suburban roads.
Rail is not a solution in itself: 14.2 per cent of Perth’s container freight travels by rail, up from two per cent in 2002 and ahead of all other Australian port cities including Melbourne (13.9 per cent), Sydney (13.7 per cent), and Brisbane (five per cent).
Yes, we need more freight travelling by rail and the Barnett government is working towards a best-practice target of 30 per cent. The 2012 Fremantle Port Container Movement Study suggests that 70 per cent of Perth’s freight is not suitable for rail transport and therefore requires transportation by road.
So how do we plan to transport this 70 per cent of freight now and into the future in the safest and most efficient way? This is where Labor and the Greens are deafeningly silent. This is why Roe 8 needs to be built and why we need the non-stop, dedicated Perth Freight Link.
Fremantle Port’s current 740,000 TEUs will not reach its 1.4 million (minimum) TEU capacity for at least 10-15 years, and once at capacity it will still continue operating. The outer harbour at Cockburn/Kwinana will cost in the range of $3 billion to $5 billion and take at least 10-15 years to build, not to mention the planning that will need to be done before this commences including complex environmental planning. Roe 8 will support efficient freight movement for both the inner and outer harbours.
An award-winning two-year community consultation process and a detailed heritage survey influenced the preferred concept design subject to strict environmental conditions setting a new benchmark in design and construction for large-scale infrastructure projects in Australia.
I want to finish with some special mentions, as Melissa did.
I acknowledge all those residents living metres from Leach Highway concerned about the heavy trucks and frequency of accidents near their houses, and the many lifelong-Labor voters who honoured me with their vote at the 2013 WA election because they understand the importance of building Roe 8. I acknowledge the transport workers union (presumably not seeking Labor pre-selection) for breaking ranks to support safer and better freight access to the Fremantle Port. They know they will save $14-$22 per trip on their heavy vehicles as a result of Roe 8 alone.
I also acknowledge the ambulance drivers and all those accessing the Fiona Stanley Hospital precinct who will benefit from improved access with a new southern access road.
To the many residents of the south metropolitan region who have expressed their support for the WA government’s commitment to Roe 8, including overwhelmingly at the 2013 WA election, residents who would never demonstrate in favour but nonetheless deserve to have their voices heard: we are fighting for you.