21/08/2015 - 13:55

Industry peril in ignoring the plan

21/08/2015 - 13:55


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All growth comes with pain, but it’s especially acute when anticipated development is unnecessarily restricted.

HEAVY LOAD: Successive state governments have failed on transport policy. Photo: Attila Csaszar

All growth comes with pain, but it’s especially acute when anticipated development is unnecessarily restricted.

This week’s Business News printed edition featured a great piece on the drama surrounding Fremantle’s port and the need to move freight through this highly urbanised area.

While Transport Minister Dean Nalder looked hapless in his handling of the issue, this is not entirely his fault; the problem stems from successive governments of both major political persuasions eroding years of sensible planning with poor decision-making.

In my view, the current problem in Fremantle has its roots in a political furore further north, when the conservative state government led by Richard Court backed away from plans to develop a highway from Fremantle through to meet the Mitchell Freeway near Innaloo.

That highway had been planned for nearly 50 years. It was part of Perth’s 1950s blueprint for development, the Hepburn-Stephenson Plan, with the road reserves provided for.

Any amateur-planning observer, of which I am one, could follow the route on a UBD. Parts of it already had roads bearing the name ‘Stephenson’.

But that neck of the woods – from Mosman Park to Woodlands – is conservative heartland, part of the golden triangle we call the western suburbs. This is territory the Liberals own (politically), except when they infuriate their base by suggesting a truck route past schools or through precious golf courses.

That’s because western suburbs Libs are unabashed Nimbys when it comes to traffic. Of course, this passion is limited to their immediate surrounds, in most cases.

That is why the highway has never really been seriously raised as a possibility since the election when the Court government was turfed out.

Perhaps that kind of thinking inspired the following Labor state government to go one step further and completely erase a planned southern route for heavy traffic out of Fremantle.

Football gets way too much air time at this time of year, but it was almost as if the success of the Eagles supporters of the western suburbs had to be matched by a win for the Dockers fans south of the port, where areas like White Gum Valley were due to host the Fremantle Eastern Bypass, to link with the final part of the Roe Highway.

Labor’s decision to wipe out a 50-year plan in what seems like a tit-for-tat exchange of planning abuses was a tragedy, unless you are a true anti-progressive and simply want to stop roads at all costs.

And the cost has been great. Residents near Leach Highway now face huge amounts of unintended truck traffic, while the Roe 8 project has been delayed to a point when green politics is now considerably more damaging than it was.


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