I want to see, in the first 3 months of that new government, if not before:
● work to start on restoring the Beeliar Wetlands to as close as possible to what they were before the current government’s destruction;
● work being done to use the existing rail freight line from Kewdale to Fremantle and Rockingham instead of having trucks use Roe Highway, Kwinana Freeway and Leach Highway;
● abandonment of any proposal to extend Roe Highway west of the Kwinana Freeway;
● legislation, if necessary, being introduced to make Colin Barnett and his Cabinet personally responsible for the cost of cancellation of construction contracts, and for repairing as much of the damage to the Beeliar Wetlands as is possible, based on professional negligence.
The WA coalition government has, for several years, been promoting, promising, and annoying many people by trying, to push through an extension of the Roe Highway from the Kwinana Freeway to Stock Road in O’Connor, and, more recently, suggesting that a tunnel may be built to take trucks from Stock Road to the southern end of Stirling Highway and so into Fremantle or across the river and onto North Quay, for ship loading and unloading. Work was started on the extension of Roe Highway across the wetlands of major concern, but was temporarily stopped because the Supreme Court determined that the Environmental Protection Authority had contravened its own rules when determining the acceptability or otherwise of the project. Unfortunately, the government took the matter to the High Court and convinced the court that the EPA’s rules for all matters not supported by the government did not need to be applied where the government was concerned. The arrogance with which Colin Barnett declared that the road would go ahead, and all he needed was for the authority to be re-issued, showed how disinterested the coalition government is in arguments put forward by opponents of its plans. Attempts to build major roads through residential areas need far more sensitive planning and working than the current government seems able to achieve. For many months the government was pushing to extend Roe Highway to Stock Road with no declared plan for what it would do with the traffic once it had reached there. That displays an incredible lack of foresight for a party charged with running the State effectively. What did Mr Barnett and his party expect to get out of the plan to push through with “Roe 8″ and thumb their noses at the EPA guidelines? Did he hope that people would be so dumb that they couldn’t see his plan to disturb more people’s homes for something that we don’t need? The cost of the proposal is enormous, and we cannot afford to be spending anywhere near that much on a short-term solution to a problem in one area by shifting it to somewhere else. Professor Peter Newman is correct with his description of Blind Freddy knowing we do not need Roe Highway extending towards Fremantle.
The Port of Fremantle is near capacity and there is already plenty of talk about having much of the container traffic through the port shifted to the Rockingham area. If that happens then an extension of Roe Highway to Fremantle, by whatever route it might take, is going to be a big white elephant.
Roe Highway currently runs from near Midland, past the Kewdale Freight Terminal to the Kwinana Freeway. A similar route is taken by the standard gauge freight lines from the Freight Terminal to both Fremantle and Rockingham. There is no reason why all the truck traffic from near Kewdale to Fremantle cannot use that freight line, which could be extended over the Swan River alongside the commuter train bridge, to reach North Quay. Trucks carrying loads which would be difficult to transfer to trains directly could be driven onto low rolling stock for the trip to Fremantle. That approach also allows freight headed to Rockingham to use the train line. It then becomes abundantly clear, to all who are willing to listen and see, that enhancing the already existing rail freight link, and possibly adding an extra track for freight trains across the railway bridge in Fremantle would be a far more cost-effective way of reducing congestion on the various roads, and without the need to damage or destroy sensitive wetlands or the need to resume houses to allow a road to be built. Plan a road along Marmion Street in Cottesloe to link with West Coast Highway, as was provided for in the Stephenson Plan, and see what reaction you get from all the politicians and big money spinners through that part of Perth. The same level of objection applies to extension of the Roe Highway, but there aren’t enough people with enough money in the affected region to make a difference.
Of course there will be job losses from the cancellation of the Roe 8 project – though the way the current government is behaving there will be extra jobs for restoration of the environment – but there will be many jobs created for the other projects which are needed more, such as Armadale Road and an upgrade to the rail freight line to Fremantle and Rockingham.
Yes, it’s a good idea to get thousands of trucks off Leach Highway every day, but not if you’re going to shift them to Stock Road, especially when there is already an option available to have them off all the roads of concern, and at significantly less cost.
Authorised by Steven Secker, 4 Dower Court, Armadale.