Back to All News

Senate will hold inquiry into Perth Freight Link debacle

Media Release
Scott Ludlam 13 Aug 2015

The Greens, ALP and all eight Senate crossbenchers have successfully moved to establish a Senate Inquiry into the Perth Freight Link, increasing the pressure on the besieged Barnett Government.

"The inquiry has been made necessary by the continued refusal of the Barnett and Abbott governments to publish basic information about the toll highway," Australian Greens Senator Scott Ludlam said today.

"Whatever your views on whether this project is a good idea or not, the public is owed an explanation as to how an open-ended funding commitment of up to $2.5 billion was made in the absence of basic information.

"I will propose to the committee that hearings are held in Perth, and that, among others, Minister Dean Nalder and Main Roads are asked to attend. It's time they provided factual evidence to back up their claims that the project is worth torching billions of dollars of taxpayers money."

The vote in Senate came on the day the federal environment department was due to release its assessment of the Roe 8 stage of the freight link, but this assessment has been delayed due to Greens' successful move to ‘stop the clock'. The action was based on inadequate information provided to the department by the Western Australian Government, relating to inadequate surveys of the endangered Carnaby's black cockatoos.

"The WA Government is so desperate to concrete their way through the Beeliar Wetlands that they couldn't even provide the right information for Commonwealth environmental and heritage assessment. A desperate Dean Nalder didn't even seem to know these processes were afoot," said Senator Ludlam.

"We ask Premier Barnett to take a deep breath and back away from this project. When you're in a hole as deep as this, it's best to stop digging," Senator Ludlam concluded.

The Senate Committee will open for public submission shortly, and will meet to organise hearing dates.

The vote passed the Senate 37-27, with only the Coalition opposing.

Terms of Reference:

*1 Senator Ludlam and the Chair of the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee (Senator Sterle):

To move-That-

(a) the Senate notes the failure of the Minister representing the Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development to comply with the order of the Senate of 10 August 2015, namely for all documents relating to the Infrastructure Australia evaluation of the Perth Freight Link and the business case presented by the Western Australian Government and related documents;
and

(b) resolves that the decision to commit funding to the Perth Freight Link project be referred to the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee for inquiry and report by 26 November 2015, with particular reference to:
(i) the decision-making process that led to the announcement that the Perth Freight Link would receive Commonwealth funding,
(ii) the information relied upon by state and Commonwealth governments informing the decision to fund this project,
(iii) the importance of transparency of decision-making in relation to infrastructure decisions,
(iv) evaluation of options for managing growth in the Perth freight task, and
(v) any related matters

 

Senator LUDLAM (Western AustraliaCo-Deputy Leader of the Australian Greens) (11:56):  Mr Deputy President, I seek leave to make a short statement.

Senator LUDLAM:  I cannot help feeling a little bit sorry for Senator Fifield, because it is your job to walk in here and just read the words that they have given you, and then the words come out. I do not know, Senator Fifield, whether you have actually visited Perth since 1955 or so, which was when the Perth Freight Link components were first put on the planning books.

This project is a total disaster, and the Barnett government is in meltdown over it. Transport minister Dean Nalder did not even know that the project was still subject to Commonwealth environmental impact assessment. The scale of incompetence and the potential waste of up to $2½ billion dollars of taxpayers' money is like nothing I have ever seen in my time here.

I want to thank Senator Sterle from the opposition—and, hopefully, the crossbenchers for their support for this inquiry. It is our proposal to call Minister Nalder and Main Roads Western Australia. If this project is so great, let's see any evidence at all and let the argument stand or fall on its merits.

Senator LUDLAM (Western AustraliaCo-Deputy Leader of the Australian Greens) (11:54): I, and also on behalf of Senator Sterle, move:

That—

(a) the Senate notes the failure of the Minister representing the Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development to comply with the order of the Senate of 10 August 2015, namely for all documents relating to the Infrastructure Australia evaluation of the Perth Freight Link and the business case presented by the Western Australian Government and related documents; and

(b) resolves that the decision to commit funding to the Perth Freight Link project be referred to the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee for inquiry and report by 26 November 2015, with particular reference to:

(i) the decision‑making process that led to the announcement that the Perth Freight Link would receive Commonwealth funding,

(ii) the information relied upon by state and Commonwealth governments informing the decision to fund this project,

(iii) the importance of transparency of decision‑making in relation to infrastructure decisions,

(iv) evaluation of options for managing growth in the Perth freight task, and

(v) any related matters.

managing growth in the Perth freight task, and

(v) any related matters.

 

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT:  The question is that business of the Senate notice of motion No. 1 be agreed to.

The Senate divided. [12:02]

(The Deputy President—Senator Marshall)

Ayes                       37

Noes                       27

Majority                  10
























AYES

Bilyk, CL

Brown, CL

Bullock, J.W.

Cameron, DN

Carr, KJ

Conroy, SM

Dastyari, S

Day, R.J.

Di Natale, R

Gallacher, AM

Gallagher, KR

Hanson-Young, SC

Ketter, CR

Lambie, J

Lazarus, GP

Leyonhjelm, DE

Ludlam, S

Madigan, JJ

McAllister, J

McEwen, A (teller)

McLucas, J

Moore, CM

Muir, R

O'Neill, DM

Peris, N

Polley, H

Rhiannon, L

Rice, J

Siewert, R

Singh, LM

Sterle, G

Urquhart, AE

Wang, Z

Waters, LJ

Whish-Wilson, PS

Wright, PL

Xenophon, N

 

 



















NOES

Back, CJ

Bernardi, C

Birmingham, SJ

Brandis, GH

Bushby, DC (teller)

Canavan, M.J.

Colbeck, R

Edwards, S

Fawcett, DJ

Fierravanti-Wells, C

Fifield, MP

Heffernan, W

Johnston, D

Lindgren, JM

Macdonald, ID

McGrath, J

McKenzie, B

Nash, F

O'Sullivan, B

Payne, MA

Reynolds, L

Ruston, A

Ryan, SM

Seselja, Z

Sinodinos, A

Smith, D

Williams, JR

 

 









PAIRS

Collins, JMA

Abetz, E

Lines, S

Cormann, M

Ludwig, JW

Ronaldson, M

Wong, P

Cash, MC

 

Question agreed to.

Senator Scullion did not vote, to compensate for the vacancy caused by the resignation of Senator Milne.

Back to All News