‘Of­fer stands’ on Perth freight link

The Sunday Times - - News - JOE SPAGNOLO

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.”

Pic­ture: Justin Ben­son-Cooper

Talk­ing heads: PM Mal­colm Turn­bull ad­dresses the crowd, and in­set, Mike Na­han at the an­nual Lib­eral State Con­fer­ence at Crown, Perth.

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