Morrison Government must release $1.2B from dead Roe 8

Published on Mon 22 February 2021 11:22am

Nothing demonstrates the deep uselessness and irrelevance of the WA Liberals better than the fact that after 4 years in which you think they might have done some policy work and considered some new ideas, the self-described centrepiece of their 2021 campaign is – wait for it! – Roe 8 and Roe 9.

Mr Wilson (11:01am) – Deputy Speaker, this motion is very simple.

It is about fairness for Western Australia. It is about ensuring that WA is properly supported by the Morrison government as it seeks to emerge from the heavy impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is totally unacceptable that the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison government continues to hold $1.2 billion dollars in federal funding over the heads and out of reach of the people of Western Australia for the sake of playing a silly political game.

They’ve done that for four years – which is bad enough. And continue holding WA to ransom for their own political vanity in future is simply ridiculous.

To continue denying the people of WA the sensible use of those funds is the very definition of senselessness and selfishness.

Deputy Speaker, in 2014 the Abbott government pledged $1.6 billion dollars to the Perth Freight Link project – a road that didn’t reach Fremantle port; had no cost-benefit analysis; was to be operated as a private toll road; and was designed to facilitate the privatisation of Fremantle Port.

When the money was announced it took the Barnett government completely by surprise. Unfortunately they have always prepared to be pushed around by their federal Liberal colleagues, they made it the centrepiece of their 2017 state election campaign.  Scandalously, against the advice of Main Roads WA, and in the shadow of that election, the Barnett government wasted $20 million dollars of taxpayer’s funds and knocked over 100 hectares of the fragile Beeliar wetlands.

Not surprisingly, that kind of arrogance was repaid at the ballot box, and the people of Western Australia chose a different future.

A future in which, thanks to the McGowan Labor government, port operations remain a public asset – rather than being sold off. A future in which rail, road, and public transport projects are being delivered across the south-metro region, the region I represent – after 9 years of a Barnett government that delivered nothing.

And that future is now being realised, we’ve already seen the widening of the freeway northbound from Russell Rd; we’ve already seen a significant jump in freight on rail, and a corresponding decrease in truck freight; we’re now seeing the new Armadale Rd/North Lake bridge well under way – that will improve connectivity for my constituents in Cockburn, and the people represented by my colleague the Member for Burt; and we’re seeing the long-awaited upgrade of High Street in Fremantle.

Sadly, despite the crystal-clear choice made by the people of WA has fallen on deaf ears when it comes to the West Australian Liberals.

Because since 2018 this federal Liberal government has put aside another $1.2 billion dollars for what they call Roe 8 and Roe 9.

And that means that WA continues to be short-changed.

It also means the WA Liberals keep dancing to the tune of their federal masters.

Four years in the wilderness and they still put the interests of WA behind their blind loyalty to whatever they’re told from Canberra.

Will they ever have the bottle to speak up about submarine maintenance and Defence shipbuilding?

Will they ever have the courage to call out the fact that WA has been lumped with the largest share of the worst NBN technology?

Who knows – but after 4 years we’re still waiting.

But instead of speaking up; instead of having the courage to pressure the Morrison government, they are now doubling down on a piece of madness that died four years ago.

And  nothing demonstrates the deep uselessness and irrelevance of the WA Liberals better than the fact that after 4 years in which you think they might have done some policy work and considered some new ideas, the self-described centrepiece of their 2021 campaign is – wait for it! – Roe 8 and Roe 9.

Deputy Speaker, I know the Member for Tangney and his colleagues enjoy political games and stunts – and that’s their choice – but they’ve also made a big song and dance in the past about the importance of respecting a political mandate.

Now the people of Western Australia made a decisive choice in March 2017.

That hasn’t been respected by WA Liberals, state or federal.

They continue to ignore the needs of Western Australians.

They continue to put their vanity above the projects and services and jobs that WA needs to emerge from this health and economic crisis.

Well, in three weeks’ time we’ll be on the other side of another Western Australian state election.

And if the people of Western Australia again reject the pointless and wasteful and harmful Roe 8 project, it will be utterly unacceptable for WA to be denied the opportunity to benefit from budgeted federal funds, $1.2 billion in federal funds.

That funding should be applied to projects that support our community’s needs, and help Western Australia recover from the pandemic.

That funding should not be held to ransom in the name of a political game, a silly set of political stunts that answer to the vanity and selfishness of federal Liberals who continue to take Western Australia for granted.

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