MELVILLE mayor Russell Aubrey says union opposition to an outer harbour at Kwinana is an endorsement for the Liberal government’s Perth Freight Link.
This week the Maritime Union of Australia broke ranks with WA Labor, saying it would rather Fremantle port stay open 24 hours a day than have money spent on an outer harbour.
“The influential MUA has now joined the Transport Workers Union opposing Labor leader Mark McGowan’s freight policy”, Mr Aubrey said.
“This blows a big hole in the argument for spending $6 billion on a new harbour with all the significant environmental risks it entails.
“Former Transport Minister Dean Nalder was right in pushing for the bypass to be completed through to Fremantle port because the PFL wins on environmental, financial and social grounds, leaving only the political argument to be resolved.”
Mr Nalder resigned from Cabinet last week, reportedly after premier Colin Barnett told him to scrap the tunnel stage of the PFL.
But MUA secretary Chris Cain disputes Mr Aubrey’s interpretation of their position: “We don’t agree with the freight link”.
He says the port is only operating at 50 per cent capacity.
“If you want to have a more economical port, you open it up for a 24hr logistical chain. That would mean you don’t need Roe 8”, Mr Cain said.
“They want to pass a tunnel through to the port, rip up people from their homes, wetlands, we’re totally against that when we’ve already got a road here.
“There’s been no consultation with us and we believe that for the community of Fremantle it’s an absolute disaster to move the port down to Kwinana.
“We reckon we can turn Labor around, but we’re making the statement that we’re opposed to this port [in Kwinana]”.
Mr Cain isn’t the first to suggest more night-time activities to ease congestions on roads leading to the port: last year the Herald reported the WA Freight and Logistic Council’s executive Mark Brownell saying much of the problem could be solved if importers and exporters would give truckies a set of keys to the yards.
He says it’s standard practice in most countries, but many small WA businesses only want deliveries while someone’s at the yard to receive them.
by TRILOKESH CHANMUGAM