Road going nowhere

• Planning minister Rita Saffioti announces the bill to create an 86-hectare recreation reserve in the Beeliar Wetlands as Labor MPs Simone McGurk, Josh Wilson and Lisa O’Malley watch on.

ROE 8 is set to be permanently rubbed out if the McGowan government can convince Liberal Democrat Aaron Stonehouse to back the rezoning of the road reserve.

On Wednesday WA’s planning minister Rita Saffioti introduced and read the rezoning bill to WA’s legislative assembly, outlining plans to protect 86 hectares of the Beeliar wetlands as “parks and recreation”.

It would fulfil one of the McGowan government’s key promises from the 2017 state election.

Vandalism

But with Liberal leader Mike Nahan describing the bill as “one of the worst cases of planning vandalism we have ever seen” and One Nation’s WA contingent determined to ignore Pauline Hanson’s opposition to the road, Labor will need to convince Mr Stonehouse to back them to get the legislation through the Upper House.

Mr Stonehouse has indicated he supports the government’s plans for an outer harbour, but has concerns about deleting the Perth Freight Link concept completely because of how long it will take to plan and build a new port.

“The Outer Harbour is 10 years away, and we need to be mindful of the need for businesses to be able to transport goods across the city in the meantime,” Mr Stonehouse said.

“That’s why I’m surprised to see WA Labor taking the freight link completely off the table.

“I’d need to see the details of the short and medium term alternatives they’re proposing before I’d be happy voting for their proposal when it comes before the Legislative Council.”

Locally, Fremantle’s state Labor MP Simone McGurk was elated by the bill.

“This is a victory for everyone who fought to protect our community and local environment,” Ms McGurk said.

“Labor made a promise to this community and we’re keeping it.

“We’re protecting our wetlands and ensuring that Roe 8 is never resurrected.

“We’ve put more freight on rail, taking trucks off Fremantle roads, and we’re getting on with proper long-term planning for our future freight transport needs.”

Her federal counterpart Josh Wilson revealed that there could be more to come, with consultation to be held over the fate of the Roe 9 section, which included 81 hectares of bushland Coolbellup, much of which was razed in the dying days of the Barnett government.

Mr Wilson said the campaign to kill the Roe extension was an example of what a community campaign could achieve, and congratulated the McGowan government for backing transport initiatives in his electorate such as widening Kwinana Freeway and the North Lake Road bridge.

by STEVE GRANT

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