Westport In The Media

See Westport's latest news below.

See Westport's latest news below.

  • Drive to upgrade ports to allow for bigger ships, The Australian 26/2/2020

    about 4 hours ago
    The australian
    Shipping container ports on Australia’s east coast need to be upgraded to accommodate the new breed of bigger, more efficient ships that increasingly dominate seaborne trade, Infrastructure Australia is warning.

    IA’s priority list for 2020, released on Wednesday, includes an initiative recommending port authorities in NSW, Victoria and Queensland follow the example of Western Australia and look to develop projects to expand the deep water ports of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, or look to develop new port locations.

    Globally, the capacity of container ships has expanded as companies look to become more efficient by hauling greater loads across the world’s...

    Shipping container ports on Australia’s east coast need to be upgraded to accommodate the new breed of bigger, more efficient ships that increasingly dominate seaborne trade, Infrastructure Australia is warning.

    IA’s priority list for 2020, released on Wednesday, includes an initiative recommending port authorities in NSW, Victoria and Queensland follow the example of Western Australia and look to develop projects to expand the deep water ports of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, or look to develop new port locations.

    Globally, the capacity of container ships has expanded as companies look to become more efficient by hauling greater loads across the world’s oceans. These ships are now capable of carrying 20,000 20-foot equivalent container units (TEUs).

    Sydney’s Botany Bay seaport is able to accommodate only ships of 10,000 TEUs, while the Port of
    Melbourne is limited to about 8000 TEUs. The IA report says that as a result, “Australia is unable to benefit from potential cost reductions and efficiency improvements because of container port constraints”.

    The inability to cater to this trend towards larger container ships means “we are missing opportunities”, IA chief executive Romilly Madew said.

    The Westport taskforce will look at Perth and southwest WA’s freight, trade and logistics requirements
    for the next 50-100 years, but “given the preference of cargo ships to make multiple stops on a route, a network of deep water ports will likely be required, rather than a single port at a given location,” the report says.

    “This incentivises shipping lines to provide larger vessels to service Australia and maximises potential economic efficiencies.”

    “We need to look at our ports, whether that’s channel deepening or the development of new locations,”
    Ms Madew said.

    She said that IA’s role was to identify the problem, and she hoped “the port authorities will come up with a solution".

  • Fremantle Inner Harbour - getting the job done, Business News WA 17/02/2020

    about 5 hours ago
    Wa business news logo blue
    Nearly 125 years on, Fremantle’s Inner Harbour is still getting the job done for Western Australia as the State’s primary container port and a critical economic driver for the local economy.

    The harbour has, throughout its history, shown a capacity to transform itself at the right times to stay abreast of shipping trends and quickly adopt new technology.

    In December, the Australian Government’s Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics published its regular statistical report, Waterline, which benchmarks Australia’s top five container ports.

    Yet again, Fremantle was at the front or in the leading pack on many efficiency measures, including...

    Nearly 125 years on, Fremantle’s Inner Harbour is still getting the job done for Western Australia as the State’s primary container port and a critical economic driver for the local economy.

    The harbour has, throughout its history, shown a capacity to transform itself at the right times to stay abreast of shipping trends and quickly adopt new technology.

    In December, the Australian Government’s Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics published its regular statistical report, Waterline, which benchmarks Australia’s top five container ports.

    Yet again, Fremantle was at the front or in the leading pack on many efficiency measures, including recording Australia’s fastest truck turnaround time, the largest share of containers on rail and a very strong wharfside crane rate.

    It was no flash in the pan, as successive Waterline reports have consistently demonstrated Fremantle’s strengths, even though Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane handle larger volumes than the 788,000 containers (TEU) which went through Fremantle last year.

    It’s comforting for Chief Executive Officer Chris Leatt-Hayter who, despite witnessing an uncertain global trade environment in recent years, has reason to remain confident.

    “You can read what you want into statistics, but there’s no question that Fremantle is a very efficient container port and that’s important for port users and the State economy,” he said.

    Located adjacent to the city of Fremantle it has been important for the Inner Harbour to demonstrate its social licence credentials, not only in regard to its ship-handling and landside capabilities but, more importantly, the port’s capacity to sustain efficient and socially-acceptable freight links.

    Driving up its rail share to 22.2% of all containers handled meant Fremantle was, for the June quarter last year significantly ahead of every other Australian port, with Sydney the closest at 13.7%.

    “Twenty percent of containers on rail means 105,000 trucks a year off our roads,” Leatt-Hayter said.

    “Through strong State Government policy, innovative practices and technology, we think the rail share can grow. We know too that rail is efficient, safer and preferred by the community.”

    Trucks had become more efficient too

    “In 2018, the number of trucks was about the same as in 2010 even though container trade increased 38 per cent in that period, so truck numbers have been held down. This is the result of proactive logistics improvements, but there are more efficiencies there to be had.”

    Annually, Fremantle Ports surveys the community and last year found support for the ongoing operation of the inner harbour as a working port continues to be strong at 78%. Nearly nine out of 10 local residents
    support the use of rail over trucks for containers.

    Continuing to ensure the efficient and effective operation of the Inner Harbour is a major focus for the organisation. This is because any new container facilities that might be developed into the future arising from the work of the Westport Taskforce are some time off.

    “Westport is important in terms of charting future options for container operations in WA and we’ve been a proactive contributor to the Westport process,” he said.

    “It’s a highly complex planning task and vital to identifying the optimum solutions for future development of port facilities in the metropolitan area for the longer term,” Leatt-Hayter said.

    In 2019, Fremantle Ports has also worked its way through complex negotiations for new container terminal leases and the operation of its North Quay Rail Terminal. A rail terminal deal was successfully achieved, but North Quay stevedoring leases will shortly be finalised.

    “The completion of the container terminal leases is a priority for us as it will provide certainty to industry and port users about container operations in Western Australia over the period until the availability of any
    new container facilities”

  • Freight network upgrades a complex priority, Business News WA 17/02/2020

    about 5 hours ago
    Wa business news logo blue
    Ports and transport
    Freight network upgrades a complex priority
    A more efficient freight network is a key priority for the state government, but upgrading the status quo requires a big spend and some complex solutions.

    THE bushfires that tore through the south-east of the state at the beginning of 2020 neatly illustrate the significant challenges involved with maintaining Western Australia’s freight network.

    Road trains were parked, travellers were left stranded and motorists were turned around as the only link to the eastern states, Eyre Highway, was closed for 12 days.

    While the efforts of firefighters ensured the situation did not...

    Ports and transport
    Freight network upgrades a complex priority
    A more efficient freight network is a key priority for the state government, but upgrading the status quo requires a big spend and some complex solutions.

    THE bushfires that tore through the south-east of the state at the beginning of 2020 neatly illustrate the significant challenges involved with maintaining Western Australia’s freight network.

    Road trains were parked, travellers were left stranded and motorists were turned around as the only link to the eastern states, Eyre Highway, was closed for 12 days.

    While the efforts of firefighters ensured the situation did not result in long-term major consequence, Freight and Logistics Council of WA chair Nicole Lockwood said the bushfire emergency highlighted the fragility of the state’s connections to the rest of the country. “We are, particularly for heavy vehicles, totally reliant on where those roads exist,” Ms Lockwood told Business News.

    “If we look at the cost of the infrastructure we already have and the size and scale of the state and our ability to connect to the other states, it isn’t practical to build alternative routes to avoid these things.

    “But it is important to make sure that when we do build, they are built with resilience in mind.

    “Maybe that changes the design and maybe that changes the construction method.

    It’s something that potentially will be given a little bit more thought in the wake of what has happened.”

    Metronet may be the big-ticket item on the state government’s agenda, but Premier Mark McGowan and his team are also investing heavily to upgrade road and freight rail networks around WA, with more efficient freight among the top priorities.

    At Fremantle Port, the government is attempting to move past the divisive Roe 8 debate with its dual-pronged strategy to improve access to Fremantle Port, despite efforts from the state Liberal Party to put the issue firmly back on the agenda ahead of next year’s election.

    Midway through last year, the state government announced it had reached its target for more than 20 per cent of container freight to be taken to Fremantle Port by rail in 2018-19, with a subsidy increase resulting in a 30 per cent rise in the number of containers travelling to the port by train.

    “The freight-on-rail policy is really about getting more out of the current assets, which I think everyone will agree is the right way to use our infrastructure,” Ms Lockwood said.

    On the roads, Georgiou Group recently began work to upgrade a crucial intersection for port access: the often-congested junction of Stirling Highway and High Street.

    A new roundabout is being installed to improve traffic flow, carefully designed to lessen the risk of truck rollovers, part of a $118 million suite of works that started in January.

    Jointly funded by the state and federal governments, the High Street upgrade is expected to create about 700 jobs.

    Closer to the port, the state government committed to a $230 million upgrade of rail access in its 2019 budget, with plans in motion to rebuild the ageing Fremantle Traffic Bridge.

    The new bridge was listed as a national priority by Infrastructure Australia, with the upgrade to allow freight trains to cross the river at the same time as passenger rail.

    In addition to the current upgrades, the state government is considering its options around whether to keep Fremantle as WA’s main import-export terminal.

    Ms Lockwood also heads up the Westport Taskforce, which was established in 2017 to determine a plan to best manage freight demands for the next 50 years.

    In August last year the taskforce unveiled a shortlist comprising three options for a new port at Kwinana, and two shared Kwinana-Fremantle options.

    Ms Lockwood said the taskforce was finalising its assessment of the shortlist and preparing to provide a suite of recommendations to the state government on its next steps.

    “From our point of view, we have had a very clear focus around the freight network, so we have come up with the options that we think, over the long term, provide the best reliability for freight growth, mindful of the scale of investment and how long that investment is going to create capacity for,” she said.

    Ms Lockwood said the Westport Taskforce had focused its efforts on understanding the impacts of each of its options on the local environment and the communities surrounding the proposed development areas.

    “In doing the comparative analysis, we’ve removed the options that will have the most impact, and we’ve been left with the options we think are now manageable in terms of impact,” she said.

    “If the government proceeds to the next stage, the work needs to be done on the approval itself, but also working through opportunities to build resilience in that area and really start to understand how that ecosystem works and how the community wants to interact with that environment going forward, so that the two uses can co-exist.

    “Any build, it doesn’t matter what you’re building, there is an impact.

    “That’s just the reality, you are changing the environment.

    “So we have to be upfront about that and we can’t say we won’t do anything. We will make a change.

    “What we are trying to ensure is that the change, overall, doesn’t make it any worse.”

    Fremantle, however, is not the only focus of state government plans to upgrade Perth’s freight transport networks.

    Main Roads Western Australia’s road network upgrades are being undertaken on a priority basis, with the eastern freight corridor a key congestion hotspot being addressed.

    Data from the BNiQ projects list shows Tonkin Highway upgrades are among the highest infrastructure spends for the state government, with three separate projects collectively costing more than $1 billion (see table).

    Other major projects include the $852 million Bunbury Outer Ring Road, more than $600 million worth of upgrades to the Great Northern Highway, and a $237 million bridge to link Armadale and North Lake roads.

    Civil Contractors Federation WA chief executive Andy Graham said the portfolio of transport works had been a much-needed boost for a local construction sector still reeling from the slowdown in
    resources-based building works.

    However, Mr Graham said more could be done to ensure local contractors secured a fair share of the contracts on offer, rather than multinational firms.

    “In WA we are blessed with amazing local capacity; our local contractors are world-class, but we do see the need for government contracts to be structured with that local capacity in mind so the locals get a fair go,” Mr Graham told Business News.

    “It’s more of a financial capacity issue. There is very little that the locals can’t do, major tunnelling might be a notable exception, but generally it’s not a question of
    capability, it’s more a question of financial capacity.

    “The local contractors have the capability but typically they don’t have the balance sheet to handle billion dollar-plus contracts.”

    Mr Graham said there were several big-ticket opportunities he considered perfect for de-bundling to ensure local participation, including the $275 million Bindoon Bypass on Great Northern Highway, and the $415 million initiative to remove level crossings along the Midland and Armadale passenger rail lines.

    “There are often options where an infrastructure project can be quite neatly de-bundled to give more opportunity for the locals,” he said.

    “Probably the pressure point for government comes when inevitably you have more contracts, you need more contract managers, and there is an issue with internal resources where Main Roads and PTA as the major transport authorities have got huge budgets to spend, but haven’t really got the internal capacity they need.

    “We understand with the budget repair mantra there has been pressure to keep a cap on the public service, but in this regard, spending more money on having some more project management and contract management capacity within government we think would have a huge payoff for a sustainable industry locally.”

    Table
    WA’S BIGGEST ROAD AND FREIGHT RAIL PROJECTS
    $852m: Bunbury Outer Ring Road
    $505m: Tonkin Highway stage 3
    $366m: Tonkin Highway interchanges
    $290m: Tonkin Highway Gap
    $344m: Great Northern Highway upgrade
    $275m: Bindoon Bypass
    $237m: Armadale to North Lake Road Bridge
    $230m: Fremantle Traffic Bridge
    $215m: Mitchell Freeway Extension
    $180m: Roe Highway to Great Eastern Highway upgrade

  • Don't forget the regions, Fremantle Herald 08/02/2020

    about 6 hours ago
    Fremantle herald
    In EARLY 2018, the Australian senate referred an inquiry into the indicators of, and impact of, regional inequality in Australia to the Economics References Committee.
    Last year the senate agreed to extend the date for the committee to report to 25 June 2020.
    The inquiry’s terms of reference are broad ranging and include fiscal policy at federal, state and local government levels; the co-ordination of policy; regional development; infrastructure; education;
    building human capital; workforce skills; employment; decentralisation and innovation.
    To date, there have been no public hearings in WA.
    In 1997, I published a regional development strategy called Rainbow 2000....

    In EARLY 2018, the Australian senate referred an inquiry into the indicators of, and impact of, regional inequality in Australia to the Economics References Committee.
    Last year the senate agreed to extend the date for the committee to report to 25 June 2020.
    The inquiry’s terms of reference are broad ranging and include fiscal policy at federal, state and local government levels; the co-ordination of policy; regional development; infrastructure; education;
    building human capital; workforce skills; employment; decentralisation and innovation.
    To date, there have been no public hearings in WA.
    In 1997, I published a regional development strategy called Rainbow 2000. Most people assumed that it was about Albany & the Great Southern; however, it is actually about Australian
    regional development, and has evolved to include all of WA’s regions, and more particularly, Fremantle and Perth.
    It is that plan that is the basis of his Submission #142 to the senate inquiry (now available on-line).
    While few spent much time thinking about port relocation 20 years ago, I was well aware that it was on the cards for Fremantle because of my professional experience.
    Fremantle and Albany share a lot in common in terms of settlement dates, heritage, trade portals for their hinterland, constrained port access (road and rail), the Anzac Centenary, and the impending WA
    Bicentennial Celebrations in 2026.
    The state has watched with spectacular interest (and results) the evolution of Perth over the past two decades, to include the Mandurah railway, Hillary’s boat harbour, Perth esplanade, Elizabeth Quay,
    Northbridge CityLink, Optus Stadium, the Fiona Stanley & Perth Children’s Hospitals, South Perth peninsula, Canning Bridge high-rise, Port Coogee marina, Scarborough high-rise, Perth Airport,
    but to name just some of the major projects, as well as the extensive growth in short-stay hotel accommodation, as the population has grown by about 800,000 new residents.
    Grand visions
    The regions haven’t done so well. Indeed, the McGowan government is now pursuing Metronet, Yanchep, Ocean Reef Marina, Ellenbrook, Midland, Armadale, and the Kwinana Indian
    Ocean Gateway in recognition and response to that growth, but where is the corresponding quality of opportunity in the regional cities of Kalgoorlie, Esperance, Albany, Bunbury, Mandurah,
    Fremantle, Geraldton, Karratha, Port Hedland and Broome.
    There is little doubt that Fremantle is on the cusp of major change associated with sea port relocation, and that various parties support and oppose that change (or at least the need and timing for the
    change) according to their perception of opportunity.
    The reality is that the WA Bicentennial dates are fixed, and the questions remains as to how we prepare those places and spaces to reflect on 200 years of achievement, as we also enunciate our
    aspirations for the next 100 years – and Albany shares that challenge in its own way.
    Meanwhile, Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt and the council are pursuing Kings Square to revitalise a struggling city centre, with grand visions for a Victoria Quay including passenger cruise
    shipping, the development of retail, services, recreation and residential, linking across the railway the CBD to waterfront.
    There is also little doubt that once the container stevedores vacate Rous Head for Kwinana, then that urban space on the coast will attract a lot of attention from property developers, and so it should as
    part of the financial solution.
    We have witnessed the 2017 state election where premier Mark McGowan and WA Labor referred to the Roe Highway extension as the road to nowhere (that stopped three kilometres
    from the port), subsequently cancelling those contracts, and installing the Westport Taskforce to plan for Kwinana.
    So how does this all come together in advance of the state and local government elections next year and the federal election in 2022?
    Whichever way it goes, whatever happens, there is going to be some serious public and private money invested in WA over the next decade as a function of change, growth and development.

  • Mid-year review: Optus Stadium roof climb in WA Government cash splash, The West Australian 18/12/2019

    2 months ago
    The west

    A $4.9 million provision for an elevator to the top of Optus Stadium to provide all-ability access for a “rooftop climb” attraction was just one of the unannounced spending changes tucked away in Treasurer Ben Wyatt’s mid-year review.

    The extra dollars will go towards the design and construction of a lift which will be progressed over the next two financial years.

    A rooftop climb was discussed during the original design of the stadium before it was shelved.

    Planning Minister Rita Saffioti put the rooftop climb and walk idea back on the agenda last year but has yet to announce...

    A $4.9 million provision for an elevator to the top of Optus Stadium to provide all-ability access for a “rooftop climb” attraction was just one of the unannounced spending changes tucked away in Treasurer Ben Wyatt’s mid-year review.

    The extra dollars will go towards the design and construction of a lift which will be progressed over the next two financial years.

    A rooftop climb was discussed during the original design of the stadium before it was shelved.

    Planning Minister Rita Saffioti put the rooftop climb and walk idea back on the agenda last year but has yet to announce a contractor to deliver the project.

    An unexpected additional cost could also be found in the review in relation to the stadium, with the Government looking to spend an additional $7.9 million on special event public transport to the venue.

    The extra money was “to meet the higher than previously forecast cost” of providing the service.

    The fallout from the Department of Communities corruption scandal has led to a further $8.9 million being spent on creating a new forensic audit branch at the Office of the Auditor-General.

    “Supported by data analytics, this new function will conduct targeted investigations of public sector agencies’ accounts and matters related to public money, including contract management and systems,” the mid-year review said.

    The McGowan Government also appears to have bailed out the ChemCentre, an organisation that tests illicit substances and works with police, which had fallen into financial stress owing to an office rent deal that was four times more expensive than what it should be paying in the current market.

    An extra $9 million has been allocated to the ChemCentre over the next four years to help it continue and meet maintenance costs for ageing equipment.

    More than $1 million has been set aside for a business case for the redevelopment or relocation of WA Police headquarters and an additional $2.4 million for analysis by the Westport taskforce and $800,000 on legal costs for Synergy as it goes into arbitration over alleged breaches of the Wholesale Electricity Market Rules.

    And Fremantle Hospital’s air-conditioning upgrade budget has also more than doubled to $8.7 million to cover eight operating theatres and two procedure rooms.


  • WA Premier Mark McGowan delivers his State of the State 2019 address, Sky News 8/12/19

    3 months ago
    Capture
    Watch here

    Summary

    WA Premier Mark McGowan delivers his State of the State 2019 address. McGowan acknowledges the traditional owners of the land, the Whadjuck people of the Noongar nation. He says the Committee for the Economic Development of Australia is the forum where Premiers and Prime Ministers go to discuss the big ideas, but today, he won't be talking about the 56,000 new jobs created in WA since they came to office. McGowan says he won't be talking about their finances and the fact that WA is the only Australian state/territory reducing its debt. He also says that he...

    Watch here

    Summary

    WA Premier Mark McGowan delivers his State of the State 2019 address. McGowan acknowledges the traditional owners of the land, the Whadjuck people of the Noongar nation. He says the Committee for the Economic Development of Australia is the forum where Premiers and Prime Ministers go to discuss the big ideas, but today, he won't be talking about the 56,000 new jobs created in WA since they came to office. McGowan says he won't be talking about their finances and the fact that WA is the only Australian state/territory reducing its debt. He also says that he won't be talking about how their good financial management allowed them to fix problems and cut payroll tax and stamp duty, as well as their efforts to keep the cost of living down, with the current Budget having the lowest rises in 13 years.

    McGowan says he is today joined by Department of Communities WA director-general Michelle Andrews, who is in charge of delivering the kind of government initiatives that help the most vulnerable people in the state, METRONET head Anthony Kannis, who is in charge of delivering the biggest revamp of transport and Westport Taskforce head Nicole Lockwood. He notes all three projects address the historical social problems from the past, the radical public transport needs of the present and the incredible economic opportunities to be seized in the future. McGowan says addressing homelessness, building METRONET and delivering Westport requires more than vision, noting they must think long-term. He recalls the big debate in 2019 concerning homelessness, specifically rough sleepers, and notes some it was conducted without compassion. McGowan says there were demands for drastic or rapid action - from debating where to put rough sleepers to politicians who claim to care about the vulnerable, labelling fellow Western Australians dealing with complex problems as 'zombies' for political gain. McGowan points out that homelessness is a complex issue. He then discusses their 10-year homelessness strategy, saying it will include 300 new public homes, 70 refurbished public housing stock and 200 additional shared equity homes delivered that will be delivered through Keystart. McGowan adds there is $34.5m over the next five years to rapidly house people, especially rough sleepers, as well as to provide intensive support services through the not-for-profit sector. He notes the strategy was modelled on the 50 Lives 50 Homes program as housing will take the form of private rental subsidies and will be rolled out across the metro area, plus Mandurah, Geraldton and Bunbury.

    McGowan discusses dealing with the congestion and sprawl of greater Perth through METRONET, which is the biggest commuter rail expansion in WA's history, as well as the fastest. He thinks Western Australians do not get how big METRONET will be, let alone, the many thousands of skilled jobs that will be created. McGowan notes the project has 72km of rail in stage one and up to 80 new train stations. He says the Department of Finance working with the Public Transport Authority to ensure local content is delivered. McGowan says it is also the Department of Communities WA building homes next to services and employment; the TAFE system producing workers with the skills they need for the undertaking. He notes there is an expectation that over 3000 direct jobs will be created between the Yanchep rail line and the Thornlie-Cockburn Link. McGowan says METRONET is a rejection of things happening in isolation in government. He then emphasises the need to make long-term decisions and spend the taxpayers' money wisely.

    McGowan says his government is the first to take real steps to determine the future of freight and trade in Perth. He says Lockwood led a comprehensive consultation process across government, private sector and the community to determine the best options. McGowan discusses the advantages of building a new port, which includes providing more jobs, better road safety, less congestion in residential areas and fewer trucks on suburban roads. He says Fremantle Port was efficient in moving things from the Swan River, but freight no longer travels by barge. McGowan also discusses what needs to be done to make the current Fremantle Port meet demands in 50 years time, which includes widening a portion of Stirling Highway to six lanes, turning Curtin Avenue into four lanes through the middle of Cottesloe and turning a part of the stock road into a six-lane freeway, which costs between $7.3b and $10b in operations. He notes building a new port will only cost $4b. He says people should not be scared of a new world-class port. McGowan says all three initiatives are about giving West Australians the kind of government they deserve.

  • New port options, Fremantle Herald 7/12/19

    3 months ago
    Fremantle herald
    TWO new options have been added to the shortlist of potential harbour solutions for Perth by the Westport Taskforce.

    Westport chair Nicole Lockwood said a second analysis of the shortlist had identified the need to look at a transition from Fremantle to a stand-alone port in Kwinana rather than a straight swapover. Ms Lockwood said the transition phase was deliberately left out during the first round of assessments so the process wasn't overcomplicated. She said the new transition options highlighted the complexity of Westport's work and how they'd remained flexible as new data emerged.

    The reassessment means five of the
    ...

    TWO new options have been added to the shortlist of potential harbour solutions for Perth by the Westport Taskforce.

    Westport chair Nicole Lockwood said a second analysis of the shortlist had identified the need to look at a transition from Fremantle to a stand-alone port in Kwinana rather than a straight swapover. Ms Lockwood said the transition phase was deliberately left out during the first round of assessments so the process wasn't overcomplicated. She said the new transition options highlighted the complexity of Westport's work and how they'd remained flexible as new data emerged.

    The reassessment means five of the seven port options now ultimately see the downgrading of Fremantle in favour of the Outer Harbour.

    Ms Lockwood said her team would be writing up its final recommendations to the McGowan government in December, with the report to be presented in the first quarter of 2020.

  • McGowan defends long-term planning, The West Australian 5/12/2019

    3 months ago
    The west



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

    3 months 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

    4 months ago
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