Jobs at risk if Link falls: Libs
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.