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Rail plan rebuttal

Planning and Infrastructure Minister Alannah MacTiernan responds to Joe Poprzecny’s assertion

in his State Scene column of January 23 that a

failure by the Gallop Government’s to sink the Mandurah to Joondalup CBD link demonstrates a lack of civic mindedness.

THERE is so much inaccuracy, misrepresentation and vanity in Joe Poprzeczny’s State Scene (WA Business News January 23) about the city rail project that it is hard to know what to get stuck into first.

The column relies on a claim that “… the MacTiernan plan never envisaged sinking the CBD Perth-to-Fremantle tracks”.

That is simply wrong. On June 10 2002 we announced our support for sinking the tracks well before Mr Poprzeczny claims State Scene “first highlighted the Gallop Cabinet’s dereliction last August”.

In August, again before State Scene’s “revelations”, we put in place the mechanisms that could deliver this project. The Government established a City Rail Development Committee, which included Government and Perth City Council representatives and independent specialists, which would also work to identify and attract funding to lower the Fremantle-Midland lines and develop the land created above.

As part of the South West Metropolitan Rail project the Government will fund construction of a tunnel for the Joondalup line as far as Lake Street. I have made it clear that we would exchange Government-owned land in return for additional undergrounding of that line and the relevant portions of the Fremantle line.

I have also made it clear that, when we go to request for proposals, all options would be considered.

State Scene produces a $110 million City of Perth valuation for the 12.6 hectares of land  (including the 2.2ha Entertainment Centre site and 3.7ha Perth City Car Parks) between the Horseshoe Bridge and the Freeway.

The valuation appears to be based on the developable land (including the Entertainment Centre, which would have to be bought from Channel 7) having a value of $10 million per hectare, or double that of land just the other side of the freeway.

It is also based on the area being developed as “high rise office buildings, retail, commercial, cinema entertainment, hotel, parking station and Subi Centro and East Perth-style residential and commercial development”.

Here, State Scene fails to disclose to WA Business News readers that the City of Perth, the major proponent of this project, is proposing that the area be developed primarily for civic purposes – museums and parklands. Of course in this context the valuations provided would have no meaning at all.

Nevertheless, my offer still stands – if the City of Perth believes that sinking the railway and developing the land will bring the fabulous pro-fits that State Scene asserts it will, then I am willing to hand over the land in return for them contracting to fund the civil construction.

In other words I invite them to put their money where their civic-minded mouths are.

I am, of course, disappointed that State Scene and its one or two friends on Perth City Council don’t give us credit for proposing and pur-suing the connection of Northbridge with the city. But I am really puzzled as to why this issue – now of apparently central importance to Perth – was never raised by them in response to the bizarre Kenwick Deviation proposed by the Court Government. 

Alannah MacTiernan MLA

Minister for Planning and Infrastructure

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