Perth Freight Link - Roe 8

By Matt Keogh MP

22 February 2021

Unlike those opposite, the McGowan WA Labor government have kept WA safe and strong as they have maintained a hard WA border when required and now as they open up to the rest of the nation. This stands in stark contrast to the Morrison Liberal government and its Attorney-General siding with Clive Palmer to bring down WA's border when it was unsafe to do so. This strong approach by Mark McGowan and his team, always following the health advice, has kept WA's resources and construction industries powering along, supporting not only the Western Australian economy but also our nation's economy.

The WA Labor Mark McGowan government get WA. They know what WA wants. The Western Australian people rejected the Perth Freight Link proposal announced by the then Treasurer, Joe Hockey, in 2014, convincingly ruling it out with the way that they voted in the 2017 state election—a project that was previously knocked on the head nearly two decades earlier. The project lacked any credible evidence to support the idea that it would improve road connectivity. In fact, it didn't even reach the port that it was supposed to be helping. It was literally a road to nowhere. Encouraged, though, by the federal Liberals, the WA government then under Premier Barnett powered along, wasting $20 billion of taxpayers' funds, pointlessly and bloody-mindedly smashing down 100 hectares of fragile black cockatoo habitat through the Beeliar Wetlands. There was $1.2 billion in federal funding set aside for that freight link.

The WA Labor government understand what people actually want. Both the member for Fremantle and I have been fighting since before we were in parliament to got funding for the Armadale Road to North Lake Bridge project. That $1.2 billion previously set aside for the redundant freight link project has been able to assist with building that new bridge over the freeway as well as the Thornlie to Cockburn METRONET rail link, which will connect the eastern side of my community to the west. Ridiculously, the Morrison government has now set aside another $1.2 billion as contingent expenditure in the budget to fund this redundant freight link project. This project is completely dead in the water. But tell that to the member for Tangney, who should be more focused on what his community actually want—resolving congestion by duplicating the Shelley Bridge.

We are calling on the federal government to respect the wishes of the people of Western Australia—there's a first time for everything, I guess—who so convincingly ruled out the Roe 8/9 project in the 2017 state election. The federal government must work with the soon-to-be re-elected Mark McGowan Labor government in WA to support jobs, business activity, transport infrastructure and our economy and communities by instead allocating these currently misallocated funds to projects that we do need and want in our community. Such projects include a regional sporting complex in Armadale; upgrades to the Sutherlands Park regional sporting complex in Southern River; sinking the rail line through Armadale and Gosnells; sinking Albany Highway through Cannington; flyovers for Tonkin Highway at Armadale Road and Ranford Road; extending Garden Street from Harpenden Street down to Holmes Road; duplicating the Shelley Bridge on Leach Highway; light rail down Armadale Road to Cockburn Central and up Ranford Road to the Murdoch station; and joining the airport rail link from High Wycombe through to the Thornlie Line with a new station at Wattle Grove. All these projects would contribute to building a better Burt and building better lives for Perth's south-east suburb communities.

But these are just the projects in and around Burt. I know that each of my Western Australian colleagues in this place will have projects in their own areas that will go a long way to improving their communities, too. We've heard from the member for Stirling. Where's the member for Tangney, the great proponent of this failed Perth Freight Link project? Not one other Liberal member from Western Australia is here to defend that project. I think that's quite telling, isn't it? They don't have any better idea or suggestion of how to defend that project, which is a waste of money, and they can't defend it against the much better projects in all of our local communities. There are so many great projects that can and should be undertaken in Western Australia. So, Prime Minister, I say to you: please stop holding us to ransom for your white elephant project.