‘Offer stands’ on Perth freight link
THE McGowan Government yesterday confirmed the door was shut on resurrecting the Perth Freight Link project, after the Prime Minister said he still wanted the controversial route built.
Malcolm Turnbull yesterday used his speech at the WA Liberal Party State Conference to recommit $1.2 billion in Commonwealth funding for the project.
The PFL plan included the Roe Highway extension through Beeliar Wetlands and a tunnel beneath Hilton and White Gum Valley.
Mr Turnbull told the party faithful his Government still wanted the congestion-busting scheme built.
“We remain committed to the Perth Freight Link,” he said. “Our offer of $1.2 billion to build it still stands.”
The PM’s comments drew the ire of WA’s Labor Government, which canned the project after last year’s election. “The Federal Liberal Party should know better than to try and hold WA to ransom,” a spokesman for Premier Mark McGowan said.
“Given the shocking deal WA has received from the Federal Government for years, if the money is real they should hand it over to West Australians with no strings attached.
“At the 2017 election we made a very clear commitment to cancel the Perth Freight Link and West Australians emphatically endorsed that policy.
“Perth Freight Link won’t be built. WA has moved on from this debate, we have a comprehensive alternative plan in place and are delivering on our commitments.”
In what appeared to be a re-election pitch, Mr Turnbull also talked up his GST floor solution for WA which will see a 70¢ floor introduced in 2021-22, rising to 75¢.
In 2019-20 there will be an $814 million top-up for WA, and $585 million in 2020-21.
“We will build a new relativity floor of 75¢ into the system and ensure that no State or Territory will ever suffer WA’s fate,” he said.
“The Commonwealth will provide a permanent annual increase to the GST pool, an injection of additional funds which will ensure that every State and Territory will be better off under our proposal. It will mean that WA will receive $4.7 billion in extra funding between now and 2026-27.”
Federal Labor leader Bill Shorten told The Sunday Times Mr Turnbull needed to make the floor law.
“We created a Fair Share fund, and it’s why we want to see the floor set at 70¢ from our first budget, increasing to 75¢,” Mr Shorten said.
“Unlike the Liberals, we want the floor to be law.”
Talking heads: PM Malcolm Turnbull addresses the crowd, and inset, Mike Nahan at the annual Liberal State Conference at Crown, Perth.