Second port questioned
A HEAVYWEIGHT Fremantle Town Hall meeting of about 500 wharfies, other unionists, fishers and some residents was told a second container port at Henderson could be five to 20 years away.
“I was in Rotterdam a few weeks ago and they were doing an outer harbour and it took 20 years,” Westport taskforce chairman Tim Collins said at the meeting last Wednesday.
The State Governmentinitiated taskforce was created after public, industry and political pressure for a comprehensive port, truck and logistics plan for the South-West after the previous government’s failed bid to build the unplanned extension of the Roe 8 Highway to North Fremantle in 2017.
MUA WA deputy secretary Adrian Evans said Fremantle Port could triple its annual container capacity to more than 2.2 million and not reach its limit until 2045, causing a resident to ask why a second port, touted to cost at least $6 billion initially, had to be investigated by the taskforce.
Mr Evans said developers were lobbying to build on North Quay in North Fremantle, from which only 48 per cent of trucks left and arrived with full containers.
He said there would be no need for a second port if current capacity was increased by measures such as container deliveries outside of normal working hours and continuing efficiencies which had reduced the number of daily trucks by 580 since 2014.
Emerging lithium processors did not need a second port because their estimated exports in 13,000 containers could comprise part of the 120,000 which left Fremantle empty each year.
“Unfortunately that can’t happen, as the lithium product absorbs CO2 and therefore must have its own specialised container,” Western Harbours Alliance chair Kim Dravnieks said after the meeting.
Fremantle Harbour master Allan Grey said size was the issue, as new 400m-long vessels would not use the port because they required upgrades to all Australian ports.
The taskforce is due to provide its initial report next month.
Pamphlets outlined the view of unionists, including MUA national president Chris Cain (right).