Former Federal infrastructure minister Anthony Albanese has claimed the $1.6 billion Perth Freight Link project "popped out of a Weeties packet in the morning" after evidence in a WA parliamentary estimates hearing that the project's announcement in the Federal Budget caught the Barnett Government by surprise.
In an estimates hearing last week, Jim Chown, parliamentary secretary to the Transport Minister, was unable to answer detailed questions about the project from shadow transport minister Ken Travers, saying it was premature.
The project aims to link Perth Airport with Fremantle Port via the Perth Gateway, Roe Highway, Stock Road and Leach Highway and includes the controversial Roe 8 extension.
The Commonwealth assumes it will fund $925 million, while the State Government will need to find about $230 million. About $450 million would come from the private sector, in exchange for the right to toll or charge heavy vehicles.
There is no money for the project in the State Budget.
"Look, it is a bit too early to give a breakdown, it is still under development in regard to the Perth Freight Link," Mr Chown said when Mr Travers asked for a breakdown of some costs.
"The Commonwealth has a propensity to make these announcements, as you well know, but the reality is that the Main Roads department and this Government will be implementing and designing the Roe 8 extension, and at this stage we have not actually got design plans that are worthy of public scrutiny."
In Federal Parliament yesterday, Mr Albanese said the "considerable" allocation of funds for the project was surprising "because infrastructure projects tend not to just pop out of a Weeties packet in the morning. They tend to be the subject of a long-term development process."
"The Perth Freight Link project therefore surprised me when it popped out just prior to the Budget," he said. "But it appears that I was not the only one who was surprised - the WA Government were pretty surprised about it as well."