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IDEA project falls behind schedule

A GOVERNMENT report on the IDEA (Innovation, Development, Employment and Applications) project at St Andrews, north of Perth, will not be finished until October, four months after State Cabinet was to receive it.

In November 2001, Premier Geoff Gallop announced in an official IDEA Project newsletter that Cabinet had established a State Government task force to assess the implementation of the IDEA project and a related strategic cooperation agreement.

The task force was to examine St Andrews in relation to the integrated development of the North-West Corridor, and advise on the nature, extent, timing and financial implications of the Government’s infrastructure requirements in the area.

But Dianne Guise, a co-chair of the project’s steering implementation group and Labor Member for Wanneroo, told WA Business News the task force would need more time to prepare its report after a series of events had delayed the steering committee’s work.

“We were a bit optimistic in our timeline,” Ms Guise said.

After last September’s terrorist attacks, major US urban and regional planning company Fregonese Calthorpe Associates declined to send a team to a planned workshop on the IDEA project.

To allow the delegates to attend, the workshop was postponed until March this year, causing dependent events to be similarly delayed.

Ms Guise said that, in addition, the steering group was working on a number of Memorandums of Under-standing with interested national and international companies and this, too, was causing some delays.

“The task force is waiting for wrap-up from us in terms of the operational side and how far we’ve gone. Then their task is to take that on board, and also look at the broader picture, and then report to cabinet,” she said.

The task force comprises the directors general of the departments of Premier and Cabinet, Industry and Technology, Housing and Works, Planning and Infrastructure, Local Government and Regional Development – respectively Mal Wauchope, Paul Schapper, Greg Joyce and Mike Harris – and the Commissioner of Western Australian Government Railways, Reece Waldock.

The IDEA project is a public-private partnership involving the State Government, the City of Wanneroo and Japan’s Tokyu Corporation.

It was established in July 1999 by the former Coalition Government, which intended IDEA as a centre of excellence in knowledge-based, innovative technologies and service-oriented industries.

Another purpose was to establish an urban centre independent of daily contact with the Perth CBD. Most residents were expected to live and work in the St Andrews area.

Last week Federal Industry Mini-ster Ian Macfarlane announced the IDEA project had been given major project facilitation status (MPFS).

In a statement, Mr Macfarlane said the status gave the St Andrews IDEA project a consolidated and stream-lined decision-making process for the necessary Federal Government approvals.

Invest Australia, the Commonwealth’s investment attraction agency, will assist the proponents in attracting investment to these industry sectors.

An Invest Australia representative said MPFS would not give the project, or its proponents, any tax or other financial benefits, but would raise awareness of the project within the Federal Government.

Initially the project aims to create as many as 1,000 jobs between 2003 and 2008.

In the long-term the new city is intended to attract up to 60,000 jobs and 150,000 residents in 55,000 homes, thereby meeting 13 per cent of the State’s future housing requirements.

Total investment in the project will exceed $12 billion over 25 to 30 years.

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