WA business backs extra Perth Freight Link cash


More federal funding for controversial project will go to new tunnel

WA business backs extra Perth Freight Link cash
Deidre Willmott addresses the media.

 

Peak Western Australian business lobby the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Western Australia (CCI) has backed increased federal funding for part of the Perth Freight Link (PFL) but the project remains divisive.

Chamber CEO Deidre Willmott says the project generally will make accessing the Fremantle Port easier, while construction of the project will create more employment opportunities.

"The Perth Freight Link will make it easier to do business by increasing connectivity between industrial centres, while reducing congestion and improving road safety for users," Willmott says.

"Eighty-seven per cent of businesses said congestion contributed directly to lost productivity, in the RAC BusinessWise and CCI Business Congestion Survey for 2015.

"The Perth Freight Link has been rated by Infrastructure Australia as one of the highest priority projects in the nation, so CCI is pleased the Federal Government has provided additional funding and reconfirmed their commitment.

"CCI looks forward to working with both the State and Federal Governments to identify more opportunities to reduce congestion and improve safety outcomes on Western Australian roads."

The statement comes after federal infrastructure minister Darren Chester announced an extra $260.8 million for the cost of a tunnel for the second stage off the project, bringing the total federal commitment to $1.2 billion for the $1.9 billion project.

The tunnel, from the Stock and Winterfold road intersection to the junction of Stirling Highway and High Street in Fremantle was a WA government call.

"This is a major win for local residents and freight operators," the federal government says.

Despite general industry and trucking industry backing, the PFL has faced tough questioning from those opposed.

Though on Infrastructure Australia’s (IA’s) Infrastructure Priority List as one of only two ‘high priority projects’, PFL has also been the focus of AI criticism in the past.

A Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee inquiry into the project is due to report on April 29.

Driven by Labor and the Greens, that report is likely to be critical too, with the Rethink the Link pressure group saying 222 of the 226 submissions to the committee were against the project.

PFL has also been hampered by bad planning leading to a WA Supreme Court setback.

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