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McGowan hedges on waterfront
The West Australian

Labor leader Mark McGowan has backed away from his fervent support for an alternative waterfront plan as he tried to justify his election pledge to "renegotiate" the Barnett Government's Elizabeth Quay development.

On Wednesday, Mr McGowan described a smaller proposal by an anti-Elizabeth Quay group called the City Gatekeepers as a "great plan" and one he backed.

But when asked yesterday if he would take the Gatekeepers' concept to the March 9 election as Labor's blueprint for the foreshore, he toned down his level of support.

"I broadly support the City Gatekeepers' model," he said. "I think that is a good model."

Tapping into concerns about increased traffic congestion when vehicles are diverted from Riverside Drive during the project, Mr McGowan said he would renegotiate the contracts the Government had already awarded.

"The project there now needs to be renegotiated," he said.

"We have a significant problem with congestion in our city. We have a significant problem in the State with debt."

He challenged Premier Colin Barnett to close Riverside Drive before the election so motorists could decide whether they wanted the project to go ahead in its current form. The Liberal Party described Mr McGowan's views on the development as "flip-flopping".

"Mr McGowan wants us to forget he was a proponent of the Carpenter government's so-called Dubai on Swan plan, which involved diverting Riverside Drive and included a maximum building height of 57 storeys in a project area double the size of Elizabeth Quay," Planning Minister John Day said.

"Now he's done a complete backflip. He's all over the place."

The minister estimated that $100 million already spent or committed to the project would be wasted if Mr McGowan was elected.

In 2009, Mr McGowan attacked the Government for deciding to review plans for the waterfront, saying delaying the development was "appalling" and proof the Government had a "1980s mindset".

Yesterday, he said Perth had changed since his 2009 views.

"I think it's possible to renegotiate and have a better outcome and save the taxpayers money and prevent the congestion crisis," he said.

Mr Barnett said the biggest problem with Mr McGowan's waterfront plan was that it was boring.

Developers have criticised the City Gatekeepers' proposal, saying its location would make it less attractive to hotel proponents and less accessible to the public.