Freight Link a Crucial Investment in Perth's Future

Opinion Piece

JBO-002/2014

22 May 2014

The West Australian

Last week Treasurer Joe Hockey delivered a fair and responsible Budget that will set Australia on course for long term economic growth and prosperity.

WA is a big winner, with the Australian Government investing $4.7 billion in high quality projects that will bust costly congestion, slash travel times for commuters and create thousands of jobs.

This investment is part of the Federal Government's record $50 billion infrastructure investment program, including an $11.6 billion growth package.

Importantly, our package will leverage greater co-contributions from State governments and the private sector and, through an asset recycling program, free up billions of dollars for extra investments that are needed today.

In total these measures add up to $125 billion of economic benefits spread across the economy.

The $925 million investment in the Perth Freight Link is a ground-breaking milestone for infrastructure delivery in WA which for the first time will see a heavy vehicle user charge implemented to ensure this vital economic link is delivered to boost the productive capacity of Perth's freight network.

Users of the freight link, and most importantly heavy vehicles, will enjoy significant benefits with the project expected to slash travel times by up to 16 minutes between Reid Highway and Fremantle Port, saving on fuel costs and increasing transport efficiency.

By introducing an innovative finance mechanism we are unlocking private sector expertise and ensuring the project achieves maximum value for taxpayer dollars with minimal impact on the Budget.

The Perth Freight Link is expected to include a 5km Roe Highway four-lane dual carriageway extension from its existing terminus at the Kwinana Freeway to Stock Road in Coolbellup and also improvements to Stock Road and High Street.

This will significantly reduce traffic on Kwinana Freeway and Leach Highway, establishing Roe Highway as the dedicated east-west freight route in Perth.

I will be working with my State counterpart Dean Nalder to ensure early works on the project start this year, with main construction on the Roe Highway extension and Stock Road improvements beginning mid-2015.

The Federal Government is committed to this project. WA Government estimates indicate that the Roe Highway extension will deliver benefits of $5.20 for every dollar invested and the Stock Road and High Street improvements providing $1.70 in benefits for every dollar invested.

This is an overwhelmingly positive return on our investment which will deliver billions of dollars in economic growth for the State and create thousands of jobs during construction.

The Perth Freight Link, together with our existing road project investments, will complete the key strategic link in Perth's road freight network, providing a direct free flowing connection to the port.

These projects will significantly boost the capacity of Perth's freight network meaning primary producers can get products to port more quickly and have greater access to domestic and international markets at reduced costs.

This game-changing project would never have been delivered under the previous Labor government, which remains opposed to this vital freight link.

Importantly, we are getting on with the job now.

By working closely with the State Government and the private sector, we expect to deliver this project by the end of the decade.