Labor will axe a suite of big ticket infrastructure projects – including a pledge to build the new football stadium at Subiaco’s Kitchener Park instead of Burswood – to fund its $3.8 billion Metronet rail plan.
Opposition Leader Mark McGowan says Labor will save $313 million by building the stadium at Kitchener Park instead of Burswood, which he claims can still be delivered in time for the 2018 AFL season to be played at the new venue.
He claims this is because the Subiaco site would not require 18 months of siteworks as the Burswood site does.
Premier Colin Barnett rubbished the claim, saying it would set the stadium back by up to two years because planning work would need to be restarted and the complications of resuming 32 private properties between Kitchener Park and the Fremantle rail line.
"To build Metronet we need to make some tough decisions and reprioritise other projects on the Barnett Government’s books,” Mr McGowan said.
Mr McGowan has also pledged find money in the Budget by:
- axing the Oakajee port project and direct the $339 million of state money budgeted for it to Metronet;
- deferring indefinitely the $402 million new state museum promised by the Government;
- not proceeding with the $40 million realignment of Curtin Avenue near Leighton Beach.
Labor will also not proceed with the Liberals’ $1.8 billion MAX light rail project, the $620 million Roe Highway stage 8 extension and the $61 million Ellenbrook rapid bus transitway.
Labor’s financial plan for Metronet also involves co-opting $540 million of already-funded road and rail projects, including the Atwell train station and overpasses on the Reid and Tonkin highways, re-purposing them for elements of the Metronet plan.
Mr McGowan characterised the raft of major announcements as making the “tough decisions” to free up the necessary resources to invest in a plan he says will solve congestion on Perth’s roads.
“Some of these decisions people won’t like, and I understand that... but I would urge everyone in WA to have a look at the big picture here,” Mr McGowan said.
“The right priority is to ensure we get great transport infrastructure in Perth while at the same time getting a world class, better located stadium.”
Mr McGowan said Mr Barnett had flip flopped on the stadium, picking four different locations for the stadium before settling on “the most expensive option possible” of Burswood.
“There will be people who won’t like the proposed sports stadium being moved from Burswood to Kitchener Park, however when all factors are taken into consideration, Burswood is the wrong site for the project,"r Mr McGowan said.
“It is significantly more expensive, it is hampered by extremely limited public transport options, inadequate parking options and no capacity to hold big weeknight and Friday night games.
“It also delivers thousands of men and women to the State’s casino rather than the small businesses of Subiaco and Leederville.
“Kitchener Park is located right near a major precinct of restaurants, cafes and bars, numerous road arteries and existing train stations. It makes logical sense.
“We can build the same new stadium in the same timeframe as Burswood, save $300 million and ease congestion across Perth’s suburbs by building Metronet.”
Premier Colin Barnett said panicked thinking was behind the the Labor move.
He said the Burswood stadium option was far better and would be delivered by 2018, while the Subiaco plan would see construction complete two years later.
It would mean resuming 32 private properties in Subiaco, along with 66 public housing properties.
It would also destroy Kitchener Park, which locals vehemently oppose, Mr Barnett said.
There were contamination problems at the Burswood site, but those issues could be resolved.
At Burswood, there was room for an entertainment precinct to complement the stadium, which could be expanded.
A Subiaco stadium would only fit enough seats to cater to Perth's growing population for 10 years, he said, while the Liberal proposal was “for 50 years”.
“They are going to squeeze a stadium into a heavily built-up area,” Mr Barnett said.
“In one day, (Opposition Leader) Mark McGowan, who wants to be premier, has abandoned some of the most important projects in this State for one reason only: because his costings don't add up on his rail projects.
“That's why he made those decisions. Small thinking, panicked thinking, not a sign of a good government.”
The Liberals have insisted Labor's rail plan will cost more like $6.4 billion - with the campaign for the March 9 state election so far dominated by both sides squabbling over how they reached their wildly differing figures.