force moving into the next phase of determining the future of the state’s port trade, Fremantle this week reaffirmed its position that its inner harbour should remain an operating port.
The council also wants to retain cruise ships, tall ships, Rottnest ferries and naval vessels – but only if they’re not carrying nuclear material.
In an odd nod to legitimising live animal export, the council says it should be moved to an alternative port along with car imports, scrap metal and other bulk goods.
“The employment and activity associated with the operations of the inner harbour are a critical component of the Fremantle region’s economy,” mayor Brad Pettitt said.
“Victoria Quay should also be progressively developed for community, tourism and commercial uses – in particular with improved facilities for cruise ship passengers.”
The Maritime Union of Australia also wants a working Fremantle port, but goes even further and argues there’s no need for an outer port for the foreseeable future.
The MUA has organised a public forum this Wednesday, August 29 in the Fremantle town hall to discuss the future of Fremantle as a port city and push its case for the state government to put on the brakes.
The union says data it’s gleaned from Fremantle Ports and a host of other reports shows that efficiency drives have seen trade at the port increase by nearly 70,000 container movements (TEUs) over the last three years while truck numbers have actually reduced by around 580.
That’s partly been driven by an increase in freight rail due to subsidies, but also better handling of containers so there are fewer empty trucks driving in and out of the port.
MUA deputy secretary Adrian Evans says they can mount a pretty convincing argument that Fremantle port’s container trade could be more than doubled to 2.4m a year without putting a single new truck on the road.
“This community forum will deliver the facts about Fremantle Port’s future straight from the mouths of actual experts in the industry,” Mr Evans says.
He’s critical of the make-up of Westport’s key players, saying there’s few with port trade experience and many have a vested interest in freeing up Fremantle to exploit the land for other purposes.
Mr Evans acknowledges his union’s position has been criticised as self-serving because a highly mechanised new port would no doubt lead to job losses for his members, but says that’s ironically coming from the same sources talking up the project’s employment opportunities.
The forum runs from 6 – 8pm.
by STEVE GRANT