Reality check needed on Oakajee

If Colin Barnett were in the habit of taking advice, which he’s not, then he would stop pushing hard for development of the Oakajee port near Geraldton – because Oakajee is a dead duck.


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Dear Tim, great logic and a well written opinion piece. "Infrastructure dreaming" is a trait of many growing business communities; WA and Oakajee is but one example. I think you should delve further into "how-n-why" the project was trumped-up to the degree it was. How it was going to be built under the OP&R model was always difficult to comprehend. I think a good autopsy would add value to WA's future infrastructure development know-how. Was it simply killed with soft thinking? A public work with no real public work benefits in terms of co-operation, statutory approvals or funding support? Or, would a private work with less development conditions have succeeded? Perhaps neither formula was viable "this time" and the resulting hybrid model was only to blame for the size of the eventual let-down because the model used created an excess of likelihood without any of the requisite certainty and commitment? Perhaps this is why the project's demise seems so tragic; it was over-stoked with likelihood for so long that in the end it seems that it was only the expectations and reputations that supported it and gave it life when in fact it was a no-brain-dead-duck (technical term) for a long time before its tyres were finally deflated and it was allowed to half respectfully be laid-to-rest (at least until the resurrection). I believe a port will be built at Oakajee - eventually (with a serving railway from the Mid-West and beyond). It is definitely not impossible and certainly not that hard. One thing for sure, unless the development model is right infrastructure development like Oakajee is extremely unlikely to occur. I think WA should be better at it than the Oakajee example makes us look. Quality, efficient and accessible infrastructure has to become a WA trade-mark. It is the challenge we have now and that we will continue to have. There is no hiding from it. Whether it be port, power, rail, road or processing. That is our future. There is nothing else out there. "Infrastructure dreaming" must be allowed to continue. One day Oakajee.

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