Asset sales could fund highway extension

Treasurer Mike Nahan says WA's contribution towards the $1.6 billion Perth Freight Link connecting the airport to the Fremantle Port will likely come from the sale of State assets.

As revealed in The Weekend West, the Federal Government will contribute $925 million to the project, with the State expected to stump up $230 million under an 80-20 funding split.

Another $445 million will come from the private sector which, in exchange for the investment, will toll heavy vehicle users of the freight link for 25 to 30 years, likely using e-tag technology.

Dr Nahan said the Roe Highway extension - a significant portion of the proposed link - was long supported by State Liberal-National Government, "and notably one that the Labor Opposition has continually opposed".

"I welcome any contribution from the Federal Government," he said.

"Important State infrastructure like the Perth Freight Link Project may be eligible for funding from the asset sales as announced in the Budget."

In last week's State Budget, the Government released a list of publicly owned operations that could be sold.

At the top of the list was the TAB with others including surplus land at Princess Margaret, Royal Perth, Shenton Park and Swan District hospitals, the Kwinana Bulk Terminal and the Utah Point port at Port Hedland.

However, Dr Nahan said no decision had been made on the sales process. Premier Colin Barnett had already made clear it would be "years" before the TAB would be sold.

But the Budget papers made clear that the "revenue generated from asset sales will be used to reduce debt levels", while allowing some revenue to be used to contribute to the "costs of assets under construction".

WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Deidre Willmott said the project was worthy but that all road users should pay tolls to use it, not just truck operators.

"CCI is a believer in user-pays but in this case it appears the Government wants just the freight industry to pay rather than everyone who would use the new road," she said.

Dr Nahan yesterday ruled out tolling private vehicles, saying Perth Freight Link was "an important road project for heavy haulage vehicles to access port and freight hubs".

"There are already charges levied to industry involving heavy vehicles and any extra charges would only be imposed on heavy vehicles, not the general public," he said.

Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey said tomorrow's Budget would contain $40 billion of roads funding over the next six years.

Labor claims about $35 billion of this money was already locked in under previous government's infrastructure spending profile.

Any extra charges would be imposed on heavy vehicles, not the public."

  • Mike Nahan * WA Treasurer

The West Australian

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