Westport In The Media

See Westport's latest news below.

See Westport's latest news below.

  • Harbour Hassles; Nothing New – The Great Port Debate Continues, Fremantle Shipping News 18/11/2019

    about 21 hours ago
    1894 long jetty 2

    By Michael Barker

    Today, it seems, everyone has a view as to where the State’s gateway harbour near Fremantle should be. So, ‘Yes, it should stay where it is in the Inner Harbour’, or ‘No, it should be somewhere south, like Kwinana’, are common responses. And there are today many strands to the debate.

    This is not a new debate, however. When you dig around a little, you discover we have been contending over the best Freo harbour location for most of the years since Lieutenant Governor James Stirling raised the Union Jack on Rous Head on 2 June 1829...

    By Michael Barker

    Today, it seems, everyone has a view as to where the State’s gateway harbour near Fremantle should be. So, ‘Yes, it should stay where it is in the Inner Harbour’, or ‘No, it should be somewhere south, like Kwinana’, are common responses. And there are today many strands to the debate.

    This is not a new debate, however. When you dig around a little, you discover we have been contending over the best Freo harbour location for most of the years since Lieutenant Governor James Stirling raised the Union Jack on Rous Head on 2 June 1829 and proclaimed Whadjuk Noongar territory henceforth to be a British Colony.

    The first berthing places for vessels arriving at Freo, after it was established as the main port for the new Colony in 1829, were at various jetties adjacent to Arthur’s Head – near today’s Bathers Beach.

    This was particularly because a very rocky bar across the entrance to the Derbarl Yerrigan – earlier given the name, Swan River, by the passing Dutch navigator Vlamingh – prevented most vessels of any size from entering the river. Unlike at Sydney Cove where Arthur Philip could sail into the harbour and up to where Circular Quay now is, sailing into the river and up to Perth was not an option in 1829. (Nor is it today.)

    One would have few doubts, however, that the rocky bar was a significant creation of a mythical being during the Aboriginal Dreaming and was always of enormous religious significance to the Noongar Peoples. One suspects that if the idea of blasting out the rocky bar with gelignite, to make a new harbour beyond it, had been put to a Whadjuk Noongar vote at any time after 1829 and up to 1897, it would not have been seconded and certainly would not have got across the line.

    However, plans for a safer and better, more efficient, harbour were advocated pretty much from the start of settlement with no regard to Noongar law or custom.

    J S Rowe, the first Surveyor General who did the first town plans for Fremantle and Perth, produced, in 1839, what FWB Stevens, then Secretary of the Fremantle Harbour Trust, called, in his 1929 ‘The History of The Fremantle Harbour’, the ‘first authentic design’. Roe contemplated a harbour being constructed under the shelter of a breakwater off Arthur Head, ships to lie at moorings and their cargoes to be handled with lighters.

    Rowe’s assistant surveyor, William Phelps, it seems was the first to propose opening the mouth of the Swan River, in 1856. His idea was to have a narrow channel leading from Gage Roads, the offshore channel, to the deeper reaches of the river. The thinking then was that vessels would find their way to Perth.

    In those very early days the burden of the vessels in question was less than 300 tons and perhaps sailing on to Perth was vaguely possible. By contrast, today’s visiting container ships often have a tonnage of 60,000 or so, and cruise ships more like 70,000. As ships got bigger, the Perth destination was just a pipe dream.

    Two reports on how to do a harbour were commissioned from Sir John Coode, an eminent British harbour authority. He produced them in 1877 and 1888. Like Rowe, he recommended outer harbours, away from the mouth of the Swan, protected by breakwaters.

    Then C Y O’Connor entered on the scene, following his appointment, in 1891, as Engineer-in-Chief and General Manager of Railways of Western Australia. At the time of his appointment the Colony had just received, in 1890, responsible self-government from London. With revenue from the gold rushes beginning to fill the Colony’s coffers, the sky seemed the limit when it came to infrastructure proposals. CY had his own firm ideas on how to do harbours and other big infrastructure things.

    Two options were then debated for the harbour. One, put forward by the then Colonial Government, was for a harbour in Owen Anchorage – where the Port Coogee marina has now been constructed – lying 3 miles south of Gage Roads. It was proposed to be reached by a channel through the Success Bank between Gage Roads and Owen Anchorage.

    The other idea – CY’s idea – was to open the mouth of the river and create an inner harbour, which could be extended in later years, going up the river as demand arose from increased trade.

    After much public debate, including a joint house inquiry in Parliament, CY’s idea was backed. Stevens’ History provides a blow by blow description of events.

    Sir John Forrest was the Premier at the time. After initially supporting the Government option, he came round to supporting CY’s. Forrest also considered, as Stevens has recorded, that the inner harbour option might one day lead to ‘large ocean steamers, if perhaps not of the very largest class, going right up to Perth’.

    However, the design then, as now, was limited by the existing nearby bridges across the Swan River, not to mention the depth and width of the river and the increasingly large vessels likely to arrive in Fremantle.

    So, the Inner Harbour was then constructed, including by using gelignite to blast out the ancient rocky bar that, as observed, had prevented most vessels from entering the river mouth right through history. And the mouth was dredged to create the harbour we have today.

    The Inner Harbour was officially opened on 4 May 1897, when the old steamer Sultan – which was a regular on the Singapore-Fremantle run, found her way into the new harbour through the gap that had been blasted in the rocky bar.

    As Stevens has noted in his History, the alternative Owen Anchorage idea didn’t go to waste. It was later used as a place for disembarkation of live cattle and shipments of explosives. Many of us remember the abattoir at Robbs Jetty, long since gone along with its odours, now replaced by flash apartments and housing estates.

    What many of us may not realise, however, is that soon after the Inner Harbour opened for business, in 1910, on the recommendation of British Admiral Henderson, the Federal Government decided to create a naval base on this, the Western side of our large island continent, and acquired Garden Island, as well as a strip of land near Woodman’s Point on Cockburn Sound, for the purpose. The influence of Sir John Forrest in all of this may be assumed, he being an influential politician in the first decade of the new Commonwealth. Works were actually commenced to carry this undertaking forward.

    By 1921, however, after the First World War, the 7,000,000 pound – yes, 7m pound – project collapsed.

    Nonetheless, the Garden Island acquisition remained intact, and today we have the naval base HMAS Stirling as our western naval protector. And as a reminder of those times, 100 years ago, just south of Woodman’s Point we have the camping site that still bears the locality name, Naval Base!

    Stevens has suggested that the peace after the First World War, and environmental factors, ultimately put paid to the idea of using Cockburn Sound as a deep water harbour. As Stevens put it, ‘nature’ protected the beautiful body of water there from exploitation as a deep water harbour.

    How times changed though, once the Second World War was over and Western Australia was anxious to reconstruct its economy in a new prosperous, peacetime, with lots of immigrants to run a new Kwinana industrial area.

    The question of where a major harbour ideally should be located never quite went away, despite CY’s great endeavour. Between 1897 and 1929, the inner harbour facilities were significantly upgraded by the old Fremantle Harbour Trust. But even so, as of 1929, when he penned his History, Stevens noted that ‘the suggestion of building a new harbour in Gage Roads is showing its head, and is for the moment a matter of discussion’.

    After World War Two, the regional planning ideas leading up to the promulgation of the 1963 Metropolitan Region Plan, envisaged something in the nature of a port happening in the general Kwinana vicinity, and of course it did with the creation of the Kwinana industrial precinct.

    Various government studies into the 80s and beyond kept stirring the alternative harbour pot.

    So, the question of the location of a major harbour in the vicinity of Fremantle capable of taking increasingly larger vessels and dealing with increasing trade, safely and efficiently, is not a new one.

    Vessels are now a tad bigger than the 300 tons folk we’re talking about in the 1870s. C Y O’Connor understood they’d keep getting bigger and that there’d be more of them coming by as trade increased. He wasn’t wrong.

    In 50 years time, as the latest report from the State Government agency Westport, referred to below, estimates, Fremantle Ports will need to handle cargo of about 3.8 million TEUs – Twenty-foot container Equivalent Units.

    Today, container ships are regarded by their capacity to hold containers, naturally enough. The largest now being built, which can’t fit in the inner harbour, or indeed at any Australian Port, are now in excess of 20,000 TEUs. To give a comparison, these behemoths are said to have a capacity 16 to 17 times that of a pre-World War Two freighter. Have a look at these biggies.

    As to where we should harbour vessels of these dimensions, or even the size of those big ones currently arriving at the Inner Harbour in the future, is a big question yet finally to be resolved.

    The latest Westport report from August 2019, says the main harbour should preferably be a stand alone harbour at Kwinana.

    The report considers that even with the construction of the contentious Roe 8 highway extension and other proposed infrastructure improvements, difficulties with road and rail access into Fremantle Port would remain too significant. The report states:

    “The high cumulative capital costs, concerns over the long-term sustainability and scalability and large levels of social impact, meant that the two stand-alone Fremantle options … performed poorly,” the report stated.

    The report also considered other benefits arose in moving the port from Fremantle, including fewer freight vehicles in the western suburbs and the ability to redevelop land at the existing facility for other uses.

    The Government media statements on the Westport shortlist report also makes useful reading.

    A new outer harbour designed to take major container ships would undoubtedly involve a de-scaling of Fremantle’s Inner Harbour.

    There is anything but universal endorsement of Westport’s preference.

    The Maritime Union of Australia has been and remains a critic, believing there is no pressing need for change. The MUA points to factors such as the depth of the port in Fremantle to accommodate larger ships, the reduction in road congestion in the past year, and the productivity improvements in the past year as reasons Fremantle could operate for about another 30 years.

    Others point to environmental concerns in Cockburn Sound if the move is made.

    In early 2020 we will host The Great Port Debate as a means of both better informing the public, especially Freo people, about the Westport preference and what is to be lost or gained by going down one channel versus another.

    We are committed to an open, informed and respectful debate about the Port and its future.

    If you or your organisation would like to contribute to the Debate, contact our editor, Michael Barker, here.

    In the meantime, Fremantle Shipping News invites your letters to us, by email here, in support of the existing Fremantle Inner Harbour or against the Kwinana Outer Harbour preference.

    Let The Great Port Debate begin!


  • The new port and Cockburn Sound, Sound Telegraph 30/10/2019

    21 days ago
    Capture



  • Consultants nurture growth opportunities, Business News 28/10/2019

    22 days ago

    The environmental consulting sector is an effective leading indicator of WA’s economic performance, and industry leaders are noticing a big improvement.

    The growing number of opportunities now available for the state’s environmental consultants is a welcome relief for an industry that took a battering during Western Australia’s recent downturn.

    While traditional sources of work such as mining and infrastructure have provided a steady stream of positions in the past year, new sources of work have sprung up.

    RPS general manager WA David Sim said there was lots of demand from mining expansion projects, and exploration growth in oil and gas.

    ...

    The environmental consulting sector is an effective leading indicator of WA’s economic performance, and industry leaders are noticing a big improvement.

    The growing number of opportunities now available for the state’s environmental consultants is a welcome relief for an industry that took a battering during Western Australia’s recent downturn.

    While traditional sources of work such as mining and infrastructure have provided a steady stream of positions in the past year, new sources of work have sprung up.

    RPS general manager WA David Sim said there was lots of demand from mining expansion projects, and exploration growth in oil and gas.

    Mr Sim told Business News projects in hydrogen and renewables were emerging sectors.

    “There’s a lot more activity in renewables, solar and wind projects,” he said.

    Going into 2020, RPS will be particularly focused on the water sector.

    “The water supply in Perth continues to be a really topical issue,” Mr Sim said.

    “One of the things we’re working on at the moment is innovation around water capture and storage, managed aquifer recharge.

    “We have to make sure we supplement our groundwater resources.

    “Managed aquifer recharge is innovation in terms of how we secure Perth’s future water supply.

    “It’s not all around desalination; that can be expensive.”

    Managed aquifer recharge takes water, such as stormwater, and moves it into aquifers for reuse or environmental benefit.

    Mr Sim said the market would also be waiting for the outcome of the Westport outer harbour taskforce.

    “It’s going to be interesting to see what government does with the recommendations from the Westport committee, that’s due at the end of the year,” he said.

    GHD market leader environment, Nick Houldsworth, said it felt like the upturn in demand was sustainable and across multiple markets.

    Mr Houldsworth agreed that new opportunities, such as lithium mining and the hydrogen economy, were supplementing traditional sources of work such as iron ore, gold and infrastructure.

    “The upturn feels more sustainable, spread across a diverse range of markets and subsectors,” Mr Houldsworth said.

    Astron managing director Julian Kruger is optimistic for his Margaret River-based consultancy.

    “Things are going well at the moment,” Mr Kruger said.

    “It’s a lot easier to find opportunities now than it was a couple of years ago.”

    He said mining and government work had both picked up.

    That included new iron ore developments, rehabilitation of old mines, and jobs with utilities such as Water Corporation.

    Astron is one of numerous consulting businesses moving into new offerings or markets, in this case geospatial services – acquiring and analysing data from sources such as drones and satellites.

    “We built a geospatial team, that’s probably the biggest growth area for us,” Mr Kruger said.

    “We could service more work on the biodiversity side of things, but we’re just going to hold steady; last time we probably grew a bit too rapidly.”

    One example of Astron’s geospatial activity was mapping Victoria’s wetlands using imagery from Geoscience Australia to track years of changes.

    Astron was also working in overseas markets such as Guinea and India.

    “People are definitely more comfortable with geospatial services, they’ve seen some of the real applications,” Mr Kruger said.

    “Mine closure plans are getting approved by the regulator with remote sensing as the key monitoring technique.”

    Earlier this year, Subiaco-based Strategen merged with national firm JBS&G.

    Strategen-JBS&G executive director Darren Walsh said the deal had given the business more depth and ability to offer more services.

    With about 200 people in the business nationally, there was more capability for supporting environmental approvals after the merger, Mr Walsh said.

    He said JBS&G had been particularly strong in contaminated sites and remediation work in WA, and that the merger had roughly doubled the size of that team.

    BMT principal marine ecologist Glenn Shiell told Business News the company’s local office had been winning work in the United Arab Emirates.

    “In the oil and gas industry ... a lot of it is reflected by oil pricing and as things improve it seems to be picking up,” Mr Shiell said.

    “We do work in the Middle East, in the UAE particularly; they’re definitely seeing a turnaround there, it’s a lot more bouyant.

    “At the moment, it’s almost a FIFO arrangement, we’re flying backwards and forwards.

    “It’s getting to the point where we’re starting to think about some of the options.

    “We’ve just found the way we conduct business, the way the environment is regulated in Australia, particularly WA, seems to really resonate with our clients in the UAE.

    “We work with the environment agency out of Abu Dhabi.

    “We picked up an initial project, they saw the way we were operating, the tools we were applying.

    “Some of those tools have been developed here with the WA EPA in mind … and we’ve taken them across to the Middle East.”

    Locally, there was also cause for optimism.

    “We can actually say now things are finally starting to turn around,” Mr Shiell said.

    “There’s a lot of consistency to the workflow.”

    Finding workers

    GHD’s Mr Houldsworth said the biggest challenge was getting the right workforce.

    “At the same time, we’re increasingly looking to hire,” he said.

    “There’s actually a shortage of good people out there.

    “It’s challenging to find people.

    “The focus for the past five or six years for employees has been to find secure roles.

    “In the previous boom we were just shipping people in from over east or offshore.

    “Now we’ve got an east coast infrastructure boom with so many large projects… we can’t.”

    Strategen-JBS&G’s Mr Walsh agreed it was difficult to fill some positions.

    “At the graduate level it’s still good, we’ve got a pretty strong graduate program,” he said.

    “There’s certainly still a gap in the WA market in terms of senior experienced people, it’s never changed despite the downturn.

    “It’s still often a challenge in Perth to fill a senior, experienced role.

    “Part of it is people are tending to stay put a bit more over the past four or five years, people can see moving organisations as a risk.

    “During the boom times people would move around a bit.

    “It’s still a bit of a constraint on our sorts of businesses in Perth.”


  • Libs must get on the road, West Australian 29/10/2019

    22 days ago
    The west



  • Moving on freight, Canning Gazette 17/10/019

    30 days ago
    Capture



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

    about 1 month 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...

    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.


  • Why I'm with the wharfies, Weekend West 05/10/2019

    about 1 month ago
    The west



  • Chamber of Commerce and Industry polling reveals WA wants MPs out of Roe 8 and 9 talks, The West Australian 3/10/2019

    about 1 month ago
    The west

    Most West Australians believe the McGowan Government should take the politics out of Roe 8 and 9 and refer the projects for independent assessment, new polling reveals.

    A Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA-commissioned survey of 920 people found 72 per cent support a decision on the road being made by independent experts — such as the recently established Infrastructure WA.

    “Now that almost three-quarters of West Australians have said they want this project to be independently assessed, the State Government must be asked to justify why they won’t refer it to the independent body they created,” CCIWA chief executive...

    Most West Australians believe the McGowan Government should take the politics out of Roe 8 and 9 and refer the projects for independent assessment, new polling reveals.

    A Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA-commissioned survey of 920 people found 72 per cent support a decision on the road being made by independent experts — such as the recently established Infrastructure WA.

    “Now that almost three-quarters of West Australians have said they want this project to be independently assessed, the State Government must be asked to justify why they won’t refer it to the independent body they created,” CCIWA chief executive Chris Rodwell said.

    Mr Rodwell said a “circuit- breaker” was required to remove the politics from Roe 8 and 9 after the project was a key plank in the platforms of both the Liberal and Labor parties at the 2017 election.

    The CCIWA poll comes after the McGowan Government specifically instructed the Westport Taskforce not to assess what impact building Roe 8 and 9 would have on extending the working life of Fremantle port.

    But Mr Rodwell insisted Roe 8 and 9 would still be required to battle growing congestion, even in the event of a drastic fall in truck traffic to and from the port.

    “Congestion in Fremantle isn’t caused by trucks, which only account for around 10 per cent of total traffic,” he said.

    “It’s caused by passenger vehicle trips. According to Infrastructure Australia’s 2019 Audit, by 2031, Fremantle residents will only be able to access between 15-20 per cent of all jobs in Greater Perth within 30 minutes by car during morning peak traffic.

    “This means that even if the State Government progresses with Westport’s recommendation to shift Perth’s port from Fremantle to Kwinana, it will still need to fix Fremantle’s road congestion issues.”

    A McGowan Government spokeswoman said Infrastructure WA’s “first and immediate priority” was developing a 20-year infrastructure strategy to guide future projects.

    “It is only once ... the strategy is complete that IWA will be able to start carrying out its other work such as assessing infrastructure proposals and working with Infrastructure Australia in securing more funding from Canberra,” she said.

    “The Wesport Taskforce has also found that even if the grossly expensive Roe 8/9 project was built, billions of dollars would still have to be spent on other road and rail upgrades such as a massive widening of Curtin Avenue.”


  • MPs told: get out of the Roe, West Australian 4/10/2019

    about 1 month ago
    The west

    Most West Australians believe the McGowan Government should take the politics out of Roe 8 and 9 and refer the projects for independent assessment, new polling reveals.

    A Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA-commissioned survey of 920 people found 72 per cent support a decision on the road being made by independent experts - such as the recently established Infrastructure WA.

    "Now that almost three quarters of West Australians have said they want this project to be independently assessed, the State Government must be asked to justify why they won't refer it to the independent body they created," CCIWA chief...

    Most West Australians believe the McGowan Government should take the politics out of Roe 8 and 9 and refer the projects for independent assessment, new polling reveals.

    A Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA-commissioned survey of 920 people found 72 per cent support a decision on the road being made by independent experts - such as the recently established Infrastructure WA.

    "Now that almost three quarters of West Australians have said they want this project to be independently assessed, the State Government must be asked to justify why they won't refer it to the independent body they created," CCIWA chief executive Chris Rodwell said.

    Mr Rodwell said a "circuit breaker" was required to remove the politics from Roe 8 and 9 after the project was a key plank in the platforms of both the Liberal and Labor parties at the 2017 election.

    The CCIWA poll comes after the McGowan Government specifically instructed the Westport Taskforce not to assess what impact building Roe 8 and 9 would have on extending the working life of Fremantle port.

    But Mr Rodwell insisted Roe 8 and 9 would still be required to battle growing congestion, even in the event of a drastic fall in truck traffic to and from the port.

    "Congestion in Fremantle isn't caused by trucks, which only account for around 10 per cent of total traffic," he said.

    "It's caused by passenger vehicle trips. According to Infrastructure Australia's 2019 Audit, by 2031, Fremantle residents will only be able to access between 15-20 per cent of all jobs in Greater Perth within 30 minutes by car during morning peak traffic.

    "This means that even if the State Government progresses with Westport's recommendation to shift Perth's port from Fremantle to Kwinana, it will still need to fix Fremantle's road congestion issues." A McGowan Government spokeswoman said Infrastructure WA's "first and immediate priority" was developing a 20-year infrastructure strategy to guide future projects. "It is only once ...

    the strategy is complete that IWA will be able to start carrying out its other work such as assessing infrastructure proposals and working with Infrastructure Australia in securing more funding from Canberra," she said.

    "The Wesport Taskforce has also found that even if the grossly expensive Roe 8/9 project was built, billions of dollars would still have to be spent on other road and rail upgrades such as a massive widening of Curtin Avenue."

  • Harbour talks exit, Weekend West 5/10/2019

    about 1 month ago
    The west