07/08/2007 - 22:00

Private sector wants action

07/08/2007 - 22:00

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Belated as it may be, the development of the Swan River foreshore to the south west of the CBD has actually taken its first serious step forward in a couple of decades.

Private sector wants action

Belated as it may be, the development of the Swan River foreshore to the south west of the CBD has actually taken its first serious step forward in a couple of decades.

Several times in the past two decades, state governments have unveiled fancy artist’s impressions of how they intend the foreshore between Barrack Street Jetty and the Narrows Bridge to look.

Each time they have faltered. This time, Planning and Infrastructure Minister Alannah MacTiernan appears to have moved the proposal closer to reality, appointing Land-Corp to oversee the process and committing $2 million for detailed design and technical studies to firm up project costs and the business case.

Ms MacTiernan last month announced a Peer Design Review, a process whereby industry players, chaired by state architect Geoffrey London, would provide input.

She also said a short list had been finalised for consortiums to potentially develop the site.

Despite the progress, most of those around the WA Business News boardroom table, and plenty of others, believe government in this state hinders far more than its helps.

“We want to develop the foreshore,” Committee for Perth chair Tony Howarth said. “If [only] government said ‘this is the area, come up with ideas and bid me a price…’”

“You would be knocked over in the rush,” suggests developer Luke Saraceni.

“Why does government want to row the boat as well as steer it?” asks Mr Howarth.

Mr Saraceni simply doesn’t understand why the government is holding things up when there is significant private money available to tackle obvious development opportunities, such as the foreshore and the deferred Northbridge Link.

“Both projects would get off the ground tomorrow if government would say so. If the government can’t do it, step aside, private enterprise can make it work,” Mr Saraceni said.

Architect Tony McCormick agrees. Government, according to Mr McCormick, should set guidelines and “get out of the way”.

But it may be even more than that.

There was a degree of concern that the state had become too conservative in a fiscal sense.

WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO and former state undertreasurer, John Langoulant, believes the government has been right to reduce its net debt ratio to revenue, cutting it by as much as one third in the past few years, to a point where it can relax its fiscal stance when it comes to capital expenditure.

 While he is cautious about adding fuel to the hot building market – precisely the argument used when the state shelved the Northbridge Link project in May – he’d like more clarity in what capital works are planned.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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