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Senate inquiry concludes Perth Freight Link wrong for WA

Media Release
Scott Ludlam 3 May 2016

The Perth Freight Link is the wrong project to invest in, will exceed the $1.9billion price tag, won't achieve its purpose and is a major lost opportunity for WA, according to a scathing Senate report released today.

In a surprise development, the report is unanimous, with Coalition Senators choosing not to submit a dissenting report. 

Australian Greens co-deputy leader Senator Scott Ludlam who initiated the inquiry said the report clearly vindicated the grassroots effort in which 30 disparate organisations united to scrap the disastrous project.

"This report buries the case for the Perth Freight Link once and for all. It is clear now why the Barnett Government has been so desperate to hide the business case and the assumptions that went into the cost-benefit analysis," he said.

"This project is desperately flawed and unworkable, and is now turning into such an electoral liability that even the Coalition Senators who participated were unwilling to defend it.

"Instead of doubling down on a tunnel, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull should kill off this Abbott-inspired fiasco once and for all.  

"On the eve of an election, Mr Turnbull would be advised to immediately adopt the report's recommendations: scrap the Perth Freight Link and invest this funding in genuine infrastructure projects developed with community input and consent." 

Key findings:

  • Total funding is likely to exceed the proposed $1.9b capital expenditure;
  • A once in a lifetime infrastructure investment opportunity will be wasted for WA;
  • The PFL will not achieve its purpose and is not wanted by the community, business and transport sectors;
  • This is not the right project for Australian Governments to invest in;
  • The Commonwealth should redeploy funding to a more productive and properly planned project;
  • PFL was poorly planned and consulted before funding was committed;
  • The WA government was not aware of the proposal before the 2013-14 Budget announcement;
  • Infrastructure Australia was not aware of the proposal before the 2013-14 Budget announcement, who found the project 'lukewarm' at best
  • The project will deliver less benefits than the business case suggests
  • There is not plan for traffic management through Fremantle

The committee recommends:

1.      The Commonwealth withdraw its support for the Freight Link project, and re-commit the project's total federal funding of $1.2 billion to the development and implementation of future Western Australian freight infrastructure projects.

2.      The committee recommends that the Commonwealth work collaboratively with state government to identify and develop future projects that will best meet the long-term infrastructure needs of Western Australia, and that these projects are supported by fully developed Business Cases that are submitted to Infrastructure Australia for assessment.

3.      The committee recommends that the Commonwealth release the full Business Case for the Freight Link, as assessed by Infrastructure Australia, to provide transparency on the project's proposed economic and social benefits.

4.      The committee recommends that the Commonwealth work with Infrastructure Australia and the Western Australian government to identify rail and traffic management strategies to expedite freight movement around the current Fremantle Port facilities.

5.      The committee recommends that the Commonwealth Department of Infrastructure and Transport consider undertaking a full analysis of the costs and benefits of investing in a second port at Kwinana, as outlined by the City of Kwinana's Indian Ocean Gateway proposal.

6.      The committee recommends that Infrastructure Australia assess the City of Kwinana's Indian Ocean Gateway proposal for inclusion on its Infrastructure Priority List.

7.      The committee recommends that the Auditor-General undertake a formal investigation into the systemic failure of the Commonwealth's planning and assessment of road and freight transport infrastructure, including the decision to fund the Perth Freight Link project.

The report will be uploaded here:

http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Rural_and_Regional_Affairs_and_Transport/Perth_Freight_Link

Scott Ludlam's previous media releases:

http://scott-ludlam.greensmps.org.au/content/media-releases/perth-freight-link-hiatus-confusion

http://scott-ludlam.greensmps.org.au/content/media-releases/greens-seek-senate-inquiry-perth-freight-link-debacle

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