Socialist Alliance candidates involved in the growing protest movement against the bulldozing of the Beeliar Wetlands have reacted sharply to claims published by the City of Melville, and reported in The West Australian on 27 January, regarding the construction of the Perth Freight Link.
South Metro candidate, and Co-founder of Fremantle Road to Rail, Sam Wainwright described the claims as “absurd”.
"The City of Melville says that more freight cannot be put onto rail because 95% of containers are unpacked in the Perth region. They deliberately pass over the maps published by Fremantle Port that show that two-thirds of those containers are unpacked in areas traversed by the existing railway line. Indeed, if you look at the map you can see that the rail line services the two major industrial areas where containers need to be transported to."
"Furthermore it's estimated that restoring the rail freight subsidy that the Liberal government has been phasing out would lift the percentage of containers to the port by rail to 20%. The state government has also shelved plans for an inter-modal terminal at Kwinana and returned the federal funding. The fact is they have actively sabotaged the goal of getting more freight on rail."
Wainwright also took aim the claim that without Roe 8 and PFL there would be "too much traffic" to allow for new public transport infrastructure such as South St light rail.
"This is absurd clap-trap. Firstly it fails to grasp what transport planners around the world have been telling us. The phenomenon of induced demand means that we can never build our way out of congestion. Secondly the claim is a deliberate lie. The state government's Transport @ 3.5 million report proposes absolutely no significant new public transport infrastructure for the whole of the Fremantle, Melville and Cockburn areas. In fact we have good reason to fear the state government is trying to create the captive market for a future toll road. It's a choice between sustainable transport or PFL.
Wainwright said, "Barnett's break-neck clearing for Roe 8 is a pre-election stunt, a kind of Vladimir Putin tough guy routine. Mayor Aubrey is doing Melville residents no favour in playing the part of Donald Trump by promoting these unscientific 'alternative facts'."
Wainwright drew attention to the other congestion challenges looming for Melville, "It's notable that the City of Melville is wasting residents money on promoting PFL which will actually make congestion worse. If the City of Melville is worried about congestion then it should be promoting a light rail connection to Garden City, a place they plan to double in size."
Fremantle candidate Chris Jenkins strongly disagrees with the unsubstantiated claim that the Perth Freight Link will reduce diesel particulate pollution,
“The whole purpose of a new free-way is facilitate more truck and car journeys. It doesn’t matter how many traffic lights are eliminated in those journeys, there will be a net increase in diesel particulates in the adjoining suburbs."
"The position taken by Melville is not just unscientific it's downright offensive. Mayor Aubrey keeps lauding the prospect of truck traffic and diesel particulates being taken away from suburbs adjoining Leach Highway. Does he think the lives of people in the more wealthy parts of Melville are worth more than those who live near Stock Rd or those who would end up with tunnel ventilation stacks near their homes? We need to drastically reduce diesel particulate exposure for everyone, no matter where they live."
Jenkins concluded, “It's time to invest in public transport and rail freight infrastructure and move away from freeway fundamentalism. There were a few dopey and destructive ideas around in the 1950s, we should ditch the Stephenson ring road plan like we did with Thalidomide. It's the twenty-first century and it's time to get on with the job of sustainable transport management.”