Jobs at risk if Link falls: Libs

Southern Telegraph - - News - Daniel Emer­son and So­phie Mor­ris

WA La­bor’s elec­tion pledge to can­cel the Perth Freight Link would cost 12,400 di­rect and in­di­rect jobs at a time when the WA econ­omy needed them most, Trans­port Min­is­ter Dean Nalder said last week.

Mr Nalder and Trea­surer Mike Na­han staunchly de­fended the Lib­er­als’ $1.9 bil­lion sig­na­ture trans­port project af­ter Fed­eral Op­po­si­tion Leader Bill Shorten swept into WA promis­ing to junk it and re­di­rect $1 bil­lion in Fed­eral money to La­bor’s Metronet heavy rail plan.

La­bor ar­gues Metronet would cre­ate 4000 di­rect and 13,000 in­di­rect jobs, but is yet to out­line a firm timetable, with con­struc­tion to hap­pen only when in­di­vid­ual routes be­came “af­ford­able”.

Mr Nalder said by con­trast, Perth Freight Link’s 2400 di­rect and 10,000 in­di­rect jobs could be cre­ated very quickly once en­vi­ron­men­tal ap­provals which were struck down by the Supreme Court in De­cem­ber had been re­done.

“If you pull this fund­ing away, you re­strict our abil­ity to ac­tu­ally cre­ate jobs in the short term, ” Mr Nalder said. “The next four to five years is where we think it’s go­ing to be pretty tight in the econ­omy and the most im­por­tant thing is to cre­ate these jobs now.”

Dr Na­han said Metronet was a La­bor “pork bar­relling” ex­er­cise which had yet to be sub­mit­ted to In­fra­struc­ture Aus­tralia, whereas the PFL was on the Fed­eral body’s “pri­or­ity” list.

Mr Shorten ac­cused Mr Nalder of “throw­ing rocks at bet­ter pub­lic trans­port” and said the ben­e­fits of the PFL were “ar­guable at best”, given that Fre­man­tle port would reach ca­pac­ity within years and the freight route would not even ex­tend all the way to the port.

Mr Shorten com­mit­ted $45 mil­lion for two grade sep­a­ra­tions to re­duce con­ges­tion on Wan­neroo Road last week.

Fed­eral Lib­er­als have com­mit­ted to fund 80 per cent of PFL costs, with State Lib­er­als stump­ing up $715 mil­lion.

Mr McGowan de­fended the de­layed time­frame for de­liv­ery of Metronet.

“You can’t get out there with a back­hoe on day one and start build­ing things, ” he said.

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