Bernie Kaaks is a photographer and has lived with his wife in Bibra Lake for the past nineteen years. He is an avid yachting enthusiast. Now retired, he worked in the transport industry in both WA and interstate in a variety of management roles for more than 25 years.He describes himself as apolitical, but is passionate about the need to allow sensible community infrastructure projects to proceed without disruption by minority groups.
PIERS Verstegen’s view on Roe 8 (Thinking Allowed, “Reflections on Roe 8”, Herald, July 1, 2017) is breathtaking in terms of its tunnel vision and blatant bias.
His opening complaint about “shocking crimes” and the “desperate and dying days” of the Barnett government leaves no doubt as to where his loyalties lie and sets the tone for a version of events that was high on emotion and disappointingly short on fact.
My property, like many others, borders the Roe 8 reserve. We knew when we purchased the vacant block that we would eventually live next to a busy highway.
Like all the other blocks in the area, it was clear felled to make way for a building.
Roadways throughout the St Paul’s estate were also clear felled before road builders moved in to lay bitumen on what was once pristine bushland.
All this land, Mr Verstegen, contained the same unique tuarts, banksias, balgas and paperbarks that make up the Roe 8 reserve.
The main difference is that the area clear felled to make way for a residential subdivision is many times the 33 hectares required for Roe 8.
Why was there no outcry from the conservation lobby while this wanton destruction was going on?
Using Mr Verstegen’s reasoning then, we are also guilty of “shocking crimes” against the environment and the community.
So are the anti-social locals who used that pristine bushland as a rubbish tip, and the local youth who used it as a race track for their unlicensed dirt bikes.
More recently we have seen the development of the Bibra Lake Commercial Area.
It was also a piece of land with a remarkable similarity to the Roe 8 reserve.
Are those developers also guilty of shocking crimes?
Mr Verstegen has obviously not had a close look at the land that was prepared for the Roe 8 highway extension, for he spoke in his article of the “restoration of wetlands”.
Even a quick visit to the area or an aerial photograph would make it obvious that the disturbance to wetlands was miniscule.
The highway cut through the space between the northern end of Bibra Lake and the southern tip of North Lake, exposing the “Protect Our Wetlands” campaign as a desperate sham by the anti-Highway lobby.
Much of the highway reserve near Bibra Drive was already cleared, being the route of a major power transmission line.
So where are we now Roe 8 has been killed off?
Arguments between the Melville and Cockburn councils about widening Farrington Road will increase as more and more commercial vehicles use this suburban road to access Roe Highway.
The Bibra Lake commercial estate is effectively isolated. The green lobby is pushing for greater use of rail to move containers out of the port, blissfully ignorant of the effect this has on both transit times and costs, both important aspects of keeping Western Australia competitive.
Road safety has been sacrificed in the interests of protecting an environment that in the past two decades has not come anywhere close to the pristine bushland described by its so-called protectors.
What must be corrected, Mr Verstegen, is not the review of environment protection laws, but the misuse of existing laws by those who have an agenda and the finances to obstruct a vital infrastructure project.