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Kwinana outer harbour essential.

Kwinana outer harbour essential.

Kwinana outer harbour essential but dodges Perth Freight Link issue!

ACA World Malcolm Turnbull in Perth last week for the $261m Perth Freight Link funding announcement.

Malcolm Turnbull in Perth last week for the $261m Perth Freight Link funding announcement.

A FEDERAL Government advisory group has identified the development of the outer harbour at Kwinana as a “game-changing initiative” and warned that without it WA would be “held back”.

The yet-to-be-released Perth and Peel Economic Development Strategy and Infrastructure Plan identifies the project as the region’s top priority and “essential to the Western Australian economy”.

The report, prepared by Regional Development Australia committees for Perth and Peel and Economic Development Australia, makes no case for the $1.9 billion Perth Freight Link to Fremantle Port.

Premier Colin Barnett this week committed to building the PFL after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced an extra $260 million to fund a road tunnel under Beaconsfield and White Gum Valley to Fremantle.

Perth’s Labor MP Alannah MacTiernan claimed it was “no coincidence” a report which supports the outer harbour — while billions of dollars are spent on a freight highway to Fremantle — had not been made public.

The RDA document, which identifies infrastructure priorities that would deliver the greatest return in investment and jobs, names the outer harbour as a “game changing initiative”.

ACA World The historic Fremantle Port, which can not be further extended.

The historic Fremantle Port, which can not be further extended.

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As well as boosting trade, it says the project would “cap freight transport movement in the sensitive and valuable area of Fremantle”.

This would create the potential for redevelopment of the historic port city.

“Further extension of the Inner Harbour (Fremantle Port) is not viable,” the RDA report says. “Road access to it is heavily constrained and the rail connection requires further investment.

“Development of the new Outer Harbour (Kwinana) presents significant jobs growth opportunities with regard to industry, transport and logistics as well as additional trade opportunities.”

It cites City of Kwinana estimates that the outer harbour would create 37,000 direct jobs and 49,000 indirect jobs.

“The initiative is essential to the Western Australian economy,” the report continues.

“Without it, growth will be held back through inefficiencies and lost opportunities directly related to transport and logistics as well as local production and export.”

Ms MacTiernan said it appeared Mr Barnett, who in November said a decision on stage two of the PFL had been delayed for 12 months, had been “overridden” by the Turnbull Government.

“This week the feds overrode him and put more taxpayer money into this ill-fated project,” she said.

“In the meantime, the Federal Government has been sitting on a report from its own agency which lists the construction of the outer harbour as the No.1 strategic priority for advancing our economy.

“The report, which was completed early March and was supposed to be released early April, has still not been made public.

“Clearly it would be a major embarrassment to the Federal Government commitment to try to sweat life out of the century-old port infrastructure.”

Transport Minister Dean Nalder said Kwinana was the preferred location for a future container port once Fremantle reaches “practical capacity”, but environmental approvals mean it would take “at least 10 years”.

He said extending the freight route as a freeway south on Stock Rd towards Kwinana was the next stage of the Government’s strategy, with revenue from a truck toll helping to fund the upgrade.

WA Labor leader Mark McGowan says Bill Shorten and the Labor Party are behind his pledge to stop the Perth Freight Link and start planning for a new port in Kwinana if he wins the next election.

He said the RDA report was correct and described the PFL plan as “a dud”.

“It is economically stupid and that’s the argument that can’t be overcome,” Mr McGowan added. “What they should be doing is commencing the planning for a port in Kwinana and making sure the roads links up to that.”

“That’s the obvious long-term solution. Why would you spend $2 billion on a road to a port that’s nearly full?”

Mr McGowan did not offer a solution to improving Fremantle Port’s efficiency in the short to medium term but stressed spending $2 billion on it was going too far.

“It always should be working on efficiency measures but blowing $2 million on a road that doesn’t fix the problem is hardly going to do that,” he said.

“$2 billion would build us most of Metronet, it would (also) cover planning for a new port in Kwinana.”

RDA Perth’s chairman Keith Ellis said he could not comment until the report was released in June.

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