Maritime Union of Australia pulls out of Westport Taskforce claiming ‘extreme bias’ for new harbour over Fremantle, The West Australian 5/10/2019

2 months ago
The west

By Josh Zimmerman

The wharfies’ union has pulled out of the Westport Taskforce process, claiming “extreme bias” towards a new outer harbour at the expense of extending the life of Fremantle Port.

Shadow transport minister Libby Mettam agreed, labelling the Westport Taskforce a “flawed process designed to come up with a pre-determined outcome” and implored the McGowan Government to focus on constructing the Roe 8 and 9 road projects.

Fearful of the impact of automation on existing jobs, the WA-branch of the Maritime Union of Australia is opposed to a new container port at Cockburn Sound.

MUA (WA) deputy secretary Adrian Evans said the union had been denied access to reports and information underpinning on the Westport taskforce’s recent short-listing of five options to meet WA’s future freight needs. – all of which include the construction of a new port in Kwinana.

“It is clear to us no matter what the facts say the intention of this Taskforce is to recommend a massive new container port is operating in Cockburn Sound within 10-15 years,” he said.

“The justification for building a new container port is based on trade projections requiring every man, woman, and child in WA tripling their consumption of overseas goods by 2068 – that fact alone should indicate something’s wrong with this so-called plan and should raise red flags.”

Mr Evans accused the independent taskforce of “manipulating data” and using biased language in its reports to ensure the final recommendation was a new outer harbour.

‘We don’t know why this ‘Taskfarce’ has ignored real, proven solutions that wouldn’t destroy the environment, are industry led, and would save over $6 billion of taxpayers money,” he said.

The bitter feud between the MUA – a key union in WA Labor – and the McGowan Government escalated to new heights over the past month with Premier Mark McGowan claiming he received death threats from MUA members after 200 of them rallied outside a Westport Taskforce briefing last month.

Prior to that, the MUA failed to pass a motion to keep Fremantle Port operational for at least 14 more years at WA Labor’s state conference in August.

A Westport Taskforce spokeswoman thanked the MUA for its input to the process and “strongly refuted” any claims of bias, saying the process had been peer reviewed throughout.

“We understand that the MUA have a clear view on Fremantle remaining Perth’s only container port for the long-term, which diverges from Westport’s findings,” she said.

Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said the MUA “clearly have a particular view” and were attempting to undermine the Westport Taskforce which had carried out a “rigorous” multi-criteria analysis to arrive at the five shortlisted options.

“They have their own views, but I think they are not views that are well supported by any fact,” she said.