MacTiernan puzzled by Oakajee funds plan

29/10/2008 - 14:48

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The state opposition has questioned Premier Colin Barnett's economic credibility after he requested federal government money for the Oakajee port project, which already has private sector funding.

MacTiernan puzzled by Oakajee funds plan

The state opposition has questioned Premier Colin Barnett's economic credibility after he requested federal government money for the Oakajee port project, which already has private sector funding.

Shadow Minister for Regional Development, Alannah MacTiernan, said there is no benefit to seeking federal funding for a project that the private sector has already committed to in full.

Oakajee Port and Rail Pty Ltd, a joint venture between Murchison Metals Ltd and Japan's Mitsubishi, has been named as preferred proponent for the development of the port and associated rail infrastructure in the Mid West region.

This week, Mr Barnett named the Oakajee port project as one of his top priorities for federal funding in a submission to the Rudd government's Infrastructure Australia fund.

 

 

Below is Ms MacTiernan's announcement:

 

 

Requesting Federal money for the Oakajee Port project is wasting an opportunity to get serious financial support for vital infrastructure for Western Australia and calls into question Premier Barnett's economic credibility and his understanding of the State's real needs.

Shadow Minister for Regional Development Alannah MacTiernan said there is no strategic benefit to seeking Federal money for a project which the private sector has already committed to fund in full.

"This bid is particularly bizarre given the Federal Government's Infrastructure Australia assessment guidelines indicate that prioritised projects need to be those unlikely to be funded by the private sector," Ms MacTiernan said.

"If a business case exists for this project, then the private sector is ready, willing and able to build it. Indeed, in July 2008 Oakajee Port and Rail Pty Ltd (OPR) was selected as the preferred developer for this common user infrastructure after an intensely competitive bid process.

"Mr Barnett needs to explain where this proposition leaves the tender process as obviously large scale public sector investment or subsidy will change the fundamentals of the project and invalidate the current bid outcome."

Ms MacTiernan said far from assisting the project, Mr Barnett's intervention was likely to delay the delivery of the port.

"There is a role for government to build common user infrastructure and charge industry but Mr Barnett seems to believe the volumes of iron ore are insufficient to warrant private sector investment and presumably therefore to repay government for its investment, she said.

"If there is no longer a cogent business case underpinning this project, then we must question why taxpayers are being asked to subsidise the port.

"Mr Barnett appears to be returning to the early 1990s when, as Resources Minister, he proposed to build the Oakajee Port to prop up the unviable King Stream project.

"The Labor Government's development of the Geraldton Port enabled the iron ore industry to get a foothold in the mid-west and led to Oakajee becoming a financially viable proposition, not requiring taxpayer subsidy."

Mr Barnett's submission to Infrastructure Australia ignores public transport projects at a time when this infrastructure is increasingly necessary to support our population grows.

"Other states have made applications for major expansions of their public transport networks to cope with urban congestion, carbon reduction and increasing oil prices," she said.

Mr Barnett has this week sought to justify this neglect by suggesting Perth does not have urban congestion problems and so does not need to apply for funds to expand the urban rail network.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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