Senator the Hon. Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
The Perth Freight Link will help drive stronger growth, more jobs and better community amenity, by getting our products to market at a lower cost, more safely and with less disruption to local communities along Perth’s transport routes.
This $1.6 billion infrastructure project of national significance will finally create the world class freight connections we need for our future economic success between Perth’s strategic industrial areas and Fremantle Port.
Australia is a trading nation. Western Australia is our country’s premier trading state. With only 10 percent of our population, WA contributes about 47 percent of our nations merchandise exports and Fremantle Port is a key part of our trading infrastructure helping to achieve that.
Both the export and import volumes through Fremantle Port will continue to grow for years to come. More trade, in particular more exports from WA, means more growth, more jobs and more opportunity for people across WA to get ahead. However, it also comes with more trucks on our roads to Fremantle Port. Currently those trucks are using fragmented and inefficient sections of our road network, mixing with commuter and local traffic creating excessive disruptions to local communities. This, together with the increasing number of private cars on the back of strong population growth is contributing to an already acute congestion problem at peak periods, as well as serious road safety issues. Without the Perth Freight Link as a productivity enhancing piece of strategic road infrastructure, this worsening congestion will increasingly act as a handbrake on our economy.
Some people have suggested that the Perth Freight Link will not be necessary once we build a second port further south. That is just wrong. Even when a second port is eventually built, it will complement, not replace, Fremantle Port. Also, the Perth Freight Link will contribute to more efficient freight movements not just to Fremantle Port but to any future second port as well. Indeed, Perth Freight link will deliver travel time savings of almost 10 minutes from the Kwinana Freeway to Fremantle and the long overdue Roe Highway extension will also service any outer harbour in the future.
Importantly, this project will take about 5000 trucks a day off southern suburban roads and highways by 2021, including about 2,000 trucks a day off Leach Highway by 2031, reducing freight traffic and congestion on local arterial roads and delivering a safer driving network for both our truck drivers and those living in our southern suburbs.
This project has been talked about for decades. We are working with the Barnett Government to finally make this project which has been talked about for decades finally a reality. We are confident that both phases of the Perth Freight Link project will be underway by next year. What makes the second phase of this project more complex and more expensive than it should have been is the irresponsible decision by Alannah MacTiernan as WA Planning and Infrastructure Minister about 10 years ago to sell off the land that had been earmarked for the Fremantle Eastern Bypass.
Today Alannah MacTiernan is campaigning against this strategic piece of road infrastructure in the same way as she campaigned against the construction of the Northbridge Tunnel and Graham Farmer Freeway about 15 years ago. In the same way she was not able to stop the Northbridge Tunnel which today is used by more than 100,000 cars a day, she will not be able to stand in the way of the Perth Freight Link project.
When we look back as a community in ten to fifteen years from now on what has been achieved since the completion of the Perth Freight Link project it will be obvious to everyone how it has helped strengthen growth, jobs and opportunity and how it has improved the quality of life of local communities in the southern suburbs of Perth.
This is an opinion piece published in the Sunday Times on 30 August 2015.