THE Turnbull government met with WA transport minister Rita Saffioti planning to play hardball over her call to divert funds from the cancelled Perth Freight Link to other WA projects, but its poor showing in the west at last July’s federal election made any threats hollow, says Cockburn MLA Fran Logan.
“We said ‘so, you’re going to withhold $1.2 billion from WA’,” Mr Logan said.
“They had a look at their golden boy in Pearce hanging on by a few points and realised they’d better do a quick turnaround.”
As a result, the Fremantle electorate secured $649 million from treasurer Scott Morrison’s budget on Tuesday for key road projects.
The ‘biggie’ is a commitment to the $237 million bridge connecting North Lake and Armadale roads.
This is projected to reduce the chronic congestion around Gateways Shopping Centre during peak hours and provide an impetus for owner Perron Group to launch a massive expansion which will include an entertainment precinct.
Also funded are:
• $49m Kwinana Freeway widening between Rusell Road and Roe Highway;
• $145m dual carriageway along Armadale Road;
• $100m extension of Murdoch Drive to connect with Kwinana Freeway and Roe Highway; and,
• $15m for Karel Avenue upgrades.
Mr Logan says the projects will equate to 3400 jobs.
Cockburn mayor Logan Howlett welcomed the funds, saying traffic congestion was his ratepayers’ chief gripe.
“This is a big win for Cockburn’s residential and business communities,” he said.
“Our road networks are struggling. Commuters currently using Cockburn Central train station are stuck in traffic for up to 45 minutes trying to exit the station’s eastern car park.”
Fremantle federal MP Josh Wilson said local and federal pressure had forced the Turnbull government to realise Western Australians were behind the McGowan government’s infrastructure plans.
“When minister Paul Fletcher threatened to withhold transport funds from WA, I invited him to come into my community and explain how his government and his WA Liberal colleagues intended to provide us with less than nothing.
“The $650m in long-overdue transport works across Fremantle and Cockburn, taken together with Metronet’s Cockburn-Thornlie passenger rail connection, will be transformative projects for the south-metro region.”
Greens senator Scott Ludlam, whose probing questions at senate hearings uncovered much of the detail about the freight link, says the funds belong to the “fearless campaigners” against the project.
“So to everyone who worked for decades, years or even in the run up to the March election that is your win, your money, which go towards transforming our city, so congratulations,” Sen Ludlam said.
by STEVE GRANT