The West

Water fight as McGowan backs rival plan

The State election has emerged as a referendum on two of WA's biggest civic infrastructure projects after Labor leader Mark McGowan yesterday outlined his vision for a scaled-down Perth waterfront.

A week after favouring Kitchener Park in Subiaco over Burswood for Perth's new sports stadium, Mr McGowan backed a reheated version of City Gatekeepers' design with a land bridge over Riverside Drive and a piazza where an inlet is being dug on Esplanade Reserve.

The plan, released by the group of planners and architects last year, includes low to medium-rise buildings, finger wharfs, a hotel, a museum and pools from Barrack Street to the Narrows Bridge.

"The City Gatekeepers have put out a great plan," Mr McGowan said.

"That would have saved an enormous amount of money, brought the city to the river and we wouldn't have the traffic chaos that we currently have.

"That's my idea, that's my plan, that's my view."

Mr McGowan started his attack on the Barnett Government's $440 million Elizabeth Quay project on Tuesday, saying he would halt work and renegotiate contracts to keep Riverside Drive open and use savings to subsidise hospital parking.

But urban designers cast doubt on the feasibility of keeping the existing Riverside Drive alignment, prompting Mr McGowan to point to the City Gatekeepers plan.

"If it's going to cost more, which I don't think it would, well then I wouldn't do it," he said. "But I'm absolutely committed to trying to improve the traffic situation that's confronting our city."

City Gatekeepers spokesman Linley Lutton said its proposal would create a major civic space with "real tourist appeal" rather than a "commercial enclave".

"The Barnett Government proceeded with Elizabeth Quay knowing traffic caused by diverting Riverside Drive will be a major problem," he said.

Planning Minister John Day said any change would be costly, delay the project and damage WA's reputation as a safe place to invest.

"Either Mr McGowan knows this but will say anything to get elected or he would engage in economic vandalism and damage the State's reputation in order to wind back a project he once supported," he said.

He said Mr McGowan criticised the Government in 2009 for delays and for scaling down Labor's "Dubai-on-the-Swan" model.

The West Australian

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