Ongoing uncertainty and debate surrounding Roe 8 during the state election campaign is just one example of why WA needs a 20-year infrastructure plan overseen by an independent advisory body, says WA’s peak business advocate Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA.
The controversial road forms an essential part of the $1.9 billion Perth Freight Link project – the biggest road infrastructure project ever untaken in WA – eventually linking to Fremantle Port.
Last week the State Government announced it would build Roe 9, including a three-kilometre tunnel, while the Opposition says it will ditch Roe 8 if elected on 11 March, describing it as a “road to nowhere” and pledging to build a harbour at Kwinana.
Premier Colin Barnett says Roe 8, running from Jandakot to Coolbellup, and Roe 9, extending from Stock Road to High Street, will remove 7000 trucks off suburban roads.
CCI CEO Deidre Willmott says Roe 8 is a perfect example of how politicising a critical infrastructure project can threaten “job creation, business confidence and economic growth”.
“Tearing up contracts will set a very bad precedent that will undermine confidence in WA,” she says.
“The business community and investors need certainty to plan their strategic decisions and the cancellation of big projects, costly delays and ongoing indecision can make investors feel there are other, more stable states and territories where they can spend their money and create jobs for the local community.”
CCI has long called for a long-term infrastructure plan to ensure WA gets the future infrastructure it needs.
“The ongoing uncertainty in Perth’s southern suburbs shows why WA needs an independent infrastructure body to oversee a 20-year infrastructure vision that goes beyond the short-term political life cycle, so that business owners, investors and the wider community can plan new investments with certainty, create more jobs and stimulate the economy and make our state a world-leading place to live and do business.”
Willmott says while WA will need a new outer harbour, there is no costed plan or approvals in place.
“This project will take many years and decades to deliver. In the meantime we need to address growing congestion by completing Roe Highway from the Kwinana Freeway to the Stirling Bridge, which was opened in the 1970s as an important part of the planned upgrade,” she says.
“Roe 8, Roe 9 and the greater Perth Freight Link project will provide critical relief from crippling road congestion and boost productivity for businesses across the metropolitan area – time lost in traffic jams is time and money taken away from running a successful business, creating jobs and stimulating the economy.”