Senator the Hon. Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
Date: Sunday, 7 May 2017
Over the past week, we have been able to reach an important agreement with the new State Government in Western Australia on a substantial $2.3 billion road and rail infrastructure package for Western Australia.
The package includes $1.6 billion in federal funding, including the re-allocation of $1.2 billion in funding previously allocated to the Perth Freight Link project.
While the Federal Government remains committed to the Perth Freight Link as an important infrastructure project of national significance in Western Australia, we recognise the priorities of the new WA State Government.
There is no doubt in my mind that the need for the Perth Freight Link project will become more acute in years to come, not only to boost productivity and growth, reducing the cost of moving freight, but also, importantly, to reduce severe and growing congestion and to improve road safety on key south metropolitan roads to and from Fremantle Port.
Indeed, Infrastructure Australia independently identified the Perth Freight Link project as their highest priority infrastructure project nationally not under construction.
There was and there is no stronger advocate for the Perth Freight Link project than me.
I did everything I could to help ensure it could be built over the past three years, but it wasn’t built and clearly now won’t be built, at least over the next four years.
We had to make some pragmatic decisions in the public interest and we have.
As a result of the agreement with the WA Government, $2.3 billion in other agreed priority projects in Western Australia can now proceed as soon as possible.
Yes, the package, appropriately, recognises and incorporates the priorities of the newly elected WA Government, key projects like Metronet and a series of WA Labor’s road infrastructure priorities.
The substantial MetroNet initiative fits in well with the Turnbull Government’s Smart Cities Agenda.
We will continue to work with the McGowan Government on the planning of new rail lines, linked to urban development, which capitalises on the rail connectivity. We also welcome the WA Government’s stated interest in pursuing 'value capture' approaches to help fund new rail lines.
Importantly, our agreed WA infrastructure package also incorporates many of our current federal government priorities, such as our commitment to ensure better access to Fiona Stanley Hospital and the broader Murdoch Activity Centre precinct for people in the Eastern and Southern suburbs. This was an important component of the Roe 8 project, which as a result of our agreement with the McGowan Government will still proceed.
We are also able to provide funding to get the planning work underway for the next stage of the Bunbury Outer Ring Road, a priority both our governments share. Significant improvements will be able to proceed to the Ocean Reef road end of Wanneroo Road. The Freeway On-ramp from Manning Road to Kwinana Freeway will be built and regional road infrastructure aimed at improving regional road safety will get a significant funding boost, to name just a few.
This substantial package of road and rail infrastructure for Western Australia will help ease congestion, improve road safety and generally improve connectivity and amenity across Perth and Western Australia.
This package will also deliver a significant employment boost in the construction sector across Western Australia.
There will be other opportunities for Western Australia to access federal funding towards vital productivity enhancing and congestion busting infrastructure in the future.
All WA Liberal Members and Senators, working as a team, will continue to advocate for improved infrastructure across our community.
As the national government, we will continue to work positively and constructively with the State Government Western Australians voted for, to deliver the best possible outcomes for our great State.
This is an opinion piece published in Sunday Times on 7 May 2017.
Karen Wu - 0428 350 139