WA short changed by feds: CCI

21/05/2009 - 00:00


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CCIWA says the state deserved more from the federal budget, despite ports securing millions in funding.

WA short changed by feds: CCI
WA Short changed by feds:CCI

WESTERN Australia's ports received almost $750 million in infrastructure funding from the state and federal budgets handed down last week.

The major winner from the federal budget was the $4 billion Oakajee port and rail project, with the government revealing it will allocate $339 million towards the deepwater project to be located north of Geraldton.

Oakajee Port and Rail (OPR), a joint venture between Murchison Metals and Japan's Mitsubishi Development, which will develop the deepwater port, welcomed the news, as did the Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA.

But CCIWA said the state's total funding allocation - less than 7 per cent of the $22 billion infrastructure package - was not enough considering WA accounted for more than 40 per cent of Australia's total exports.

While ports in the Pilbara missed out on federal funding, Port Hedland's $225 million Utah Point project received an allocation of $130 million from the state budget.

And Esperance Port received a windfall of $38 million for a major upgrade of facilities.

However, the Oakajee project was left out of the state government's calculations.

Treasurer Troy Buswell said the exclusion of the project was due to the state budget numbers being finalised before the federal budget was unveiled.

But Mr Buswell was quick to emphasise the government's commitment to injecting $339 million towards Oakajee.

Delivering a record $8.3 billion infrastructure spend in his first budget as state treasurer, Mr Buswell determined WA's port infrastructure will receive $377.2 million in 2009-10 for deepening at Fremantle Port's inner harbour, Esperance upgrades and the construction of Port Hedland's multi-user Panamax berth.

Port Hedland Port Authority chief executive Andre Bush believes the funding will help the port and its proponents by providing a means to develop the export facilities.

"With the addition of Utah the through-put will be upwards of 20 million tonnes, so there will be a four- to five-fold growth in the trade that the port authority will handle as a result of that development," Mr Bush told WA Business News.

Transport Minister Simon O'Brien highlighted WA's road network, which support port and trade operations around the state, would receive $1.37 billion.

"A total of $34.6 million is assigned for the ongoing construction of Stage One of the Bunbury Port Access Road between South Western Highway and Estuary Drive," Mr O'Brien said.

"Another $4.5 million will support the Fremantle Port rail service to reach the government's set target of 30 per cent of containers travelling by rail from Forrestfield-Kewdale to the port."

Mr O'Brien also announced $18.15 million in funding for upgrades to the Greenbushes Rail, which will enhance the network as a timber log freight route to Bunbury Port.

But opposition planning spokesperson Allanah MacTiernan is concerned about Fremantle Port operations.

A two-year deferral of $32 million in funding for equipment at the Kwinana bulk terminal, the removal of $70 million from Main Roads' planned expenditure for transport links into a new container terminal at Fremantle, and no provision for roads for the proposed port at James Point are massive problems, according to Ms MacTiernan.

"You'd have to say the chances of getting this new container terminal by 2015 is looking pretty bleak," Ms MacTiernan told WA Business News.

"There's only one port that rates in Mr Barnett's eyes and that's Oakajee."



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