The Opposition has called into question the WA Labor Government’s ability to deliver the Westport Kwinana outer harbour project, given its admissions it still has no clue on the additional container numbers required to prove up the business case for the project.
Shadow Ports Minister Colin de Grussa has asked the WA Labor Government on five separate occasions over the past 18 months to confirm the numbers it will use to support the definitive business case for the Kwinana outer harbour.
“On all five occasions I have received the same dismissive ‘nothing to see here’ answer” Mr de Grussa said.
“As it turns out, there is a very good reason why the Government has been so cagey about providing any level of detail about its container growth forecasts.
“In response to questions raised during budget estimates the Government admitted that the forecasts were “a moving feast, so we do not know until we know what the project is”.
Mr de Grussa said it has been six and a half long years since the election of the WA Labor Government and its dispatch of the Roe 8 project, and they still cannot figure out the numbers.
“To gain further insight into the Government’s reticence for transparency about its forecasting, one only has to look at the actual growth rates for container trade at Fremantle Port during the last 5 years.
Rather than the forecast 3.25% annual growth that was used by the Government in its decision to proceed with the Kwinana outer harbour project, what we have actually seen is an annual growth rate of 0.57%.
“True to form, I believe that the Labor Government will stick to its plans for an outer harbour, irrespective of how the numbers stack up.
“The problem is that, along with every other infrastructure project this government has undertaken, the timelines and costs will just be pushed out further.”
Mr de Grussa said this would spell disaster for the communities and road users who suffer the daily congestion caused by port container freight and Labor’s decision to kill-off Roe 8 and the FreightLink project.
Calculations using the WA Labor Governments original container growth forecasts have shown that an additional 600,000 containers would be travelling on the metropolitan road system by 2035/36.
Even in a fairytale world where the Labor Government managed to build the Kwinana outer harbour within the next 6 years, an additional 175,000 containers would be on Perth roads.
“The WA Labor Government is caught in a bind of its own making and if their business case delivers a set of numbers which supports a new port, they are committing to a massive increase of freight on an already overstretched freight network, until the new port is built,” he said.
“If they deliver a set of numbers any less than the original estimates, it will be difficult to justify the new port or it will simply push out construction timelines and costs even further.”