Ports plan a ‘dud’

Opposition transport shadow Libby Mettam and Fremantle candidate Miquela Riley campaign at Fremantle Port. Photo by Steve Grant,

IT’S still sitting on ports minister Alannah MacTiernan’s desk, but the state Opposition has already branded the Westport report into the state’s freight needs a dud.

Shadow transport minister Libby Mettam joined the Liberal party’s Fremantle candidate Miquela Riley at Fremantle Ports on Wednesday to hammer home their big-ticket platform of reinstating Roe 8/9 and retaining Fremantle’s port.

The Westport Taskforce has put forward seven options for the state’s future port and transport needs, five of which call for Fremantle to be decommissioned and a new port built at Kwinana. The other two split the workload of the two ports.

“It’s flawed because it did not take into account Roe 8/9, but also it has the potential to put at risk thousands of jobs at the Fremantle port,” Ms Mettam said.

While not committing to shelving the report and starting again, as it “might have some lessons to be learned”, Ms Mettam said there was scope to expand Fremantle’s port to cope with the state’s freight needs for the next 20-30 years.

“There is no reason to duplicate ports, and we are committed to jobs at Fremantle; there are 2000 jobs directly at the port and 6000 in related industries.”

Ms Riley, a former naval officer, says before Covid-19, Fremantle had one of the highest unemployment rates in the state, and closing its port would have a devastating impact on the local economy.

“There is nowhere else like this in Australia where you can go and sit and have a coffee and watch an operational port go by,” Ms Riley said.

When it was pointed out the party’s position made them unlikely allies with the wharfie’s union, she said her own partner was a union member and it was a misconception the party was anti-union.

Despite the Liberals losing badly in seats affected by the Roe corridor at the last election, Ms Mettam says they’ve done internal polling which showed there was strong support for its reinstatement.

Ms MacTiernan’s office has indicated the report could be released later this month.

By STEVE GRANT

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