Premier pushes back on port
Premier Mark McGowan, Treasurer Ben Wyatt and Transport Minister Rita Saffioti have pushed back against a WA Labor factional power play demanding a rethink of the promised new outer harbour at Kwinana.
Mr McGowan insisted the outer harbour plan would proceed despite his party’s weekend State conference passing a motion critical of the project.
“This is a medium to longterm project that will provide a major economic boost for this State,” he said. “We can’t afford not to progress it.”
Mr Wyatt described the motion moved by the Maritime Union of Australia and supported by the Right’s Progressive Labor group as “bizarre”.
“The WA economy is an export economy which means Kwinana outer harbour, when developed, will have huge economic benefits to the State of WA, including job creation well beyond the port facilities,” he said.
Promised as part of Labor’s pledge to scrap Roe 8 and the Perth Freight Link to Fremantle Port, the outer harbour is touted as a solution to traffic congestion.
Ms Saffioti agreed the MUA shared the same views on the issue as Liberal leader Mike Nahan but claimed she was unfazed.
“It’s not embarrassing for me,” she said. “If you look at what the motion was, it basically asked for analysis and work and that’s something we are committed to do.” But senior Right frontbencher Peter Tinley indicated the MUA was entitled to its own view.
“The industrial wing of the Labor movement separates on many, many issues, from trading hours for example to penalty rates to infrastructure,” he said.
The weekend motion was promoted via an eight-page pamphlet titled, “The truth about the flawed outer harbour plan”.
The MUA said Fremantle port was only operating at 50 per cent capacity, meaning a new harbour was not needed for decades.
The motion claimed lobbyists and commercial interests were trying to “cash in” on the “premature” multibillion-dollar harbour plan.
MUA deputy secretary Adrian Evans said the motion was approved because it made sense.
“We agree that planning should be done and a proper study will show that the Fremantle port has a long life left in it and any outer harbour construction will just put the State into further debt,” he said.