Bat­tle for Oaka­jee port cash

Midwest Times - - FRONT PAGE - Shane Wright and Phoebe Wearne

Fed­eral MP Melissa Price wants $339 mil­lion of Fed­eral funds ear­marked for the shelved Oaka­jee port project im­me­di­ately freed for other projects in the Ger­ald­ton re­gion.

The Lib­eral mem­ber for Du­rack ar­gued against keep­ing the money for Oaka­jee be­cause the project re­quired fur­ther de­sign work and sig­nif­i­cant pri­vate cap­i­tal.

“In the mean­time, I have ar­gued that the $339 mil­lion, in the for­ward es­ti­mates, could be in­vested in other projects in WA, par­tic­u­larly in the Mid West, like at the Ger­ald­ton Port or to sup­port the devel­op­ment of tourism in­fra­struc­ture on lo­ca­tions such as the Abrol­hos Is­lands, to­gether with the sup­port of the State Govern­ment,” she said.

Fed­eral In­fra­struc­ture Min­is­ter Dar­ren Ch­ester said the Govern­ment was al­ready in­vest­ing $6.8 bil­lion in in­fra­struc­ture projects across WA and was wait­ing on the State Govern­ment to in­di­cate its in­ten­tions re­gard­ing the Oaka­jee project.

The State Govern­ment has de­manded Can­berra hand over $339 mil­lion that has been sit­ting in Fed­eral cof­fers for al­most nine years for the now-aban­doned Oaka­jee port project.

WA Trea­surer Ben Wy­att has for­mally asked Fed­eral coun­ter­part Scott Mor­ri­son to in­vest the cash in a WA port project.

The $4 bil­lion Oaka­jee port project, 25km north of Ger­ald­ton, was ap­proved for Fed­eral fund­ing as part of the Rudd govern­ment’s re­sponse to the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis with the then Lib­eral-Na­tion­als govern­ment press­ing Can­berra for the cash.

But the project, that was planned to be the hub of a new Mid West iron ore dis­trict, never got be­yond the plan­ning stage.

The Aus­tralian arm of the Ja­panese con­glom­er­ate be­hind the port and rail line, Mit­subishi Devel­op­ment, last year ef­fec­tively wrote off the value of the en­tire Oaka­jee project.

WA Re­gional Devel­op­ment Min­is­ter Alan­nah MacTier­nan said the Govern­ment had got sick of wait­ing for Can­berra and writ­ten di­rectly de­mand­ing the money come back to the State.

I have ar­gued that the $339 mil­lion . . . could be in­vested in other projects in WA, par­tic­u­larly in the Mid West Melissa Price

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