Councils accused of ‘playing politics’
TREASURER Mike Nahan has slammed councils south of the river for “playing politics” by banding together to call for action on a land-backed Outer Harbour proposed by the City of Kwinana.
The Shire of SerpentineJarrahdale and cities of Armadale, Cockburn, Kwinana, Rockingham, and the Town of East Fremantle formed the Southern Corridor Alliance on Tuesday, November 8.
The alliance wants planning to start immediately, with the Outer Harbour predicted to generate more than 70,000 direct and indirect jobs and underpin the region’s economy.
Armadale Mayor Henry Zelones said the Outer Harbour was a way to provide immediate employment opportunities for the fast growing region had this had led to southern corridor councils joining forces.
WA Labor agrees the Outer Harbour should be a priority and has promised to allocate $20 million to complete the planning as part of a long-term integrated transport plan for the state, should it be elected in March.
A taskforce would determine the exact location of the harbour and the project would need federal and private investment.
But Dr Nahan said the Outer Harbour would cost $3 billion to $5 billion and not be required for at least 15 years. It had always been considered an overflow port, allowing the Inner Harbour to continue to operate.
“If the State paid for that Outer Harbour prematurely, it would be forced to substantially increase charges at the port, which would not only put workers’ jobs at risk but waste taxpayers’ money,” he said. “I am also very concerned that the councils that represent the communities adjacent to Cockburn Sound appear to be largely ignoring a major environmental impact on their community, despite the well-documented advice from the Environmental Protection Authority.
“It is time the councils stopped playing politics, looked after their community and their most important environmental asset, and considered the future of the port appropriately.”
Kwinana Mayor Carol Adams said the State Government had ignored calls from various sectors for focus to urgently shift to the Outer Harbour.
She said the City of Kwinana’s proposal for a land-backed port had less environmental impact than the preferred State Government’s option of an island port.
Ms Adams said an Outer Harbour would provide capacity of more than three times that of the Fremantle Inner Harbour, and sale of land in the Inner Harbour and Western Trade Coast for residential and commercial use could offset the need to raise user charges.
Cockburn Mayor Logan Howlett said planning and developing the Outer Harbour now would send a strong signal about the importance of the region.
For more details on the proposed Outer Harbour, see http:// indianoceangateway.com.au.
An artist’s impression of what the Outer Harbour in Kwinana could look like.