FORMER WA premier Colin Barnett’s gouge through the southern suburbs will fade a little further into memory after Cockburn council accepted a tender to rehabilitate the abandoned Roe Highway extension.
Rebadged as the Perth Freight Link, Roe 8 would have linked the highway to Fremantle Port, giving truckies a red light-free run to drop off and pick up their containers. It was scrapped in March 2017 following the McGowan government’s election victory, but not before bulldozers cleared a swath of land through the Beeliar wetlands just North of Bibra Lake.
The project sparked huge protests and a strong police response, including dozens of arrests and a mounted charge against a small group of protesters who were trapped along temporary fencing set up by construction contractors.
It also faced a legal challenge from Whadjuk Noongar woman and Cockburn resident Corina Abraham, who alleged a failure in procedural fairness in the change to Aboriginal Heritage Status of the land along the proposed route. Her challenge failed.
In a 2015 letter to then-PM Malcolm Turnbull, Ms Abraham wrote that his support for the project “weakens my heart”.
She said the Beeliar wetlands were home to Dreaming stories like that of the Wagyl (rainbow serpent) and as such “plays an important spiritual role in maintaining the health of our waterways”.
Aboriginal groups are represented on the Rehabilitating Roe 8 Advisory Committee, with members from the city’s Aboriginal Reference Group and South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council.
Main Roads has agreed to fund 100 per cent of the rehabilitation project. The tender submitted by Natural Area Holdings estimates a value of $260,675 for the first year of the contract, which could be extended up to five years.
by CARSON BODIE