Locals weigh port bid

WESTERN Australia’s first private port proposal has yet to win the full support of Kwinana industries and businesses, despite the massive economic benefits predicted by proponents, James Point Pty Ltd.

James Point Pty Ltd plan to build a general cargo port in the State’s premier industrial estate while associated – but separate – company James Point Livestock want to build a livestock holding facility on adjacent land.

The companies would work together to compete with Fremantle Port in the lucrative, albeit controversial, livestock trade.

The business and industry sector has adopted a wait-and-see attitude toward the project, with most reserving their decision until the Department of Environmental Protection releases the two public environmental reviews later this month.

The Kwinana Industries Council has only given “in-principle support” to the project, according to spokesman Terry O’Brien.

“In principle the KIC supports the establishment of a private port… it could support some of our members, so it follows that we would,” Mr O’Brien said.

“Obviously the proponents have done their work and feel there is a market here.”

Rockingham and Kwinana Regional Chamber of Commerce chief executive officer John Talbert said there were some concerns about the impact the livestock facility could have on those working in the area.

Mr Talbert said the Chamber was now canvassing members to determine their thoughts and, eventually, its stance on the project.

James Point Pty Ltd, of which Western Stevedores is a major shareholder, was appointed by the Court Government in May 1999 to construct and operate a private port in Cockburn Sound.

It is proposed the port will ship a wide range of products including fertiliser, mineral and silica sands, steel, cars and, if permitted, livestock.

James Point Livestock has proposed to build a three-tiered livestock holding facility with the capacity to house up to 250,000 sheep at a time.

James Point Pty Ltd and James Point Livestock spokesman Bryn Martin said many Kwinana industries presently using Fremantle Port would be able to all but eliminate their road transport costs if the private port went ahead.

“Transport costs will absolutely be cheaper for any company trucking products from Kwinana to Fremantle or Fremantle to Kwinana,” Mr Martin said.

“And we will be in direct competition with Fremantle Port and this will probably force them to sharpen their pencils, and, of course, we will be looking at our costs too.

“We think this port will make life easier for everyone.”

Mr Martin said along with reduced trucking and shipping costs for businesses and industries, the port would also bring a much-needed boost to the Kwinana economy.

“Ports are really good for local economies, that is a known factor throughout the world,” he said.

“They are a big employment generator, directly and indirectly.”

But the economic benefits have in no way won over local authorities, who have vowed to stop the livestock holding facility, if they can.

At a recent public meeting, Town of Kwinana Mayor John Slinger said the council would never approve the project, as it would undermine years of community work to change the area’s previously bad reputation.

“I have been on the council for 10 years trying to change the image of this town and the sheep pens proposal could undo all of this,” Mr Slinger said.


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