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Western Australia opposition vows to scrap $1.4bn project

The state’s Labor party says it will axe the ‘deeply flawed’ Perth Freight Link scheme and reallocate the funds to other road projects if it wins the March election.

Western Australia’s largest road project stands to be cancelled if the Labor party wins state elections in March. 

Opposition leader Mark McGowan said yesterday that the recently signed Roe 8 contract would be renegotiated immediately upon forming the government so that A$1.7 billion ($1.24 billion; €1.18 billion) of funding could be freed up for other “real congestion-busting projects”. 

He suggested that a combined A$236 million would be reallocated to three new schemes, including the Armadale Road dual carriageway, Armadale Road Bridge and two overpasses on Wanneroo Road. 

McGowan described Roe 8 and Perth Freight Link as dud projects which “do not make planning, economic or environmental sense”. 

The Roe 8 project, a 5km extension of Roe Highway in Perth, is the first stage of the planned A$1.9 billion Perth Freight Link which will connect Perth’s industrial areas to Fremantle Port. The scheme, which includes the development of Fremantle Tunnel and an upgrade of the Roe highway, is the largest road infrastructure project in Western Australia, according to the state government. 

Roe 8 is currently being developed by a consortium comprising CIMIC Group subsidiary CPB Contractors, Australian developer Georgiou Group, family-owned material supplier WA Limestone and consultancy firms GHD, AECOM and BG&E.   

The consortium reached contractual close with state government agency Main Roads Western Australia last October and construction is scheduled to be completed by early 2020, according to the A$330 million contract.

WA Labor said it had sought independent legal advice, from former WA Solicitor General Grant Donaldson, which indicated that the projects could be stopped “at a modest cost”. 

When Melbourne’s East West Link project was scrapped due to a subsequent change in government in 2014, the Victorian state authorities ended up paying A$339 million to the East West Connect consortium. 

The election promise to scrap Roe 8 follows the party’s opposition to the current Liberal-National government’s proposal of floating 51 percent of the state’s transmission network Western Power last month. 

The state government said it hoped to raise A$11 billion from the IPO, A$8 billion of which will be used to repay debt, while Labor said it would not sell Western Power if it won the March election.