MARITIME UNION OF AUSTRALIA WA BRANCH ASKS – WHAT IS IN WESTERN HARBOUR ALLIANCE’S PROPOSAL FOR A NEW OUTER HARBOUR IN KWINANA?
North Fremantle – The special interest lobby group with the loudest voice pressuring Government to close the Port in Fremantle and build a new $6 billion outer harbour in Kwinana is the Western Harbours Alliance (WHA). The reports commissioned by this deep-pocketed lobby group, and statements made by its members in the public and press, paint a troubling picture of what it would require to make their vision of an outer harbour economically feasible.
After studying the information found on the WHA website and reading the 161-page proposal put forward in WHA’s “Tradeflows and the Development of Westport” reports, The WA Branch of the MUA believes the public has the right to know what exactly is being proposed by this special interest lobby group and who its members are pushing this agenda.
Chief among the MUA’s concerns is the proposal by WHA to create a “Special Economic Zone” or SEZ. These SEZs, or Free Trade Ports, are known around the world for granting large tax incentives and having reduced environmental, labour, customs, and planning regulations to allow businesses to maximise their profits.
Across the three Tradeflows reports WHA mentions Special Economic Zones a total of 30 times and SEZs are referenced on at least eight different pages. There is also a dedicated section on WHA’s website to this bad idea.
WHA has already taken the “first step” to create a Special Economic Zone by applying in August 2017 to establish a “Special Control Area” and the next step outlined in the WHA “Tradeflows Report” is for “All local government authorities to transfer all functions to the new SEZ management once created.”
In WHA’s effort to pressure Government into building an outer harbour in Cockburn Sound are they being upfront with the public what their detailed plans are involving the creation of a SEZ?
- What are the specific “regulations, costs, bureaucratic interference, approval times, and customs interferences” listed on WHA’s website they would ask the SEZ management board to reduce once established?
- Does the WHA agree with their own report “All local government authorities transfer all functions to the new SEZ management once created”?
- Are the boundaries in WHA member’s application for a “Special Control Area” the same as being proposed for the SEZ?
- Does WHA agree “to encourage businesses to set up in the zone, financial and regulatory incentives are usually introduced… There are other incentives provided by Governments such as foreign ownership rules, special labour laws, and financial incentives.” What are the special labour laws, financial and regulatory incentives, and foreign ownership rules WHA is referring to?
- Does the WHA agree that water regulations should be reduced in the SEZ? Their report states current “regulations force the water to be treated to an unnecessarily high standard making it cost-prohibitive for many.”
- Will all freight be allowed into the SEZ without first going through a customs check?
- Who will govern the SEZ and serve on its management board?
The proposal to create a SEZ raises more questions than answers and it is about time the Western Harbours Alliance make clear what their plans are for the creation of a Special Economic Zone.
“Fremantle Inner Harbour is one of Australia’s most efficient ports, provides tens of millions of dollars to our state’s coffers every year, and without additional investment can handle the largest ships to visit any of Australia’s ports well into the future” said MUA Deputy Secretary Adrian Evans.
“Why would we rush to build an expanded outer harbour in Kwinana when Fremantle has the built capacity to handle trade volumes for a city the size of Sydney? ABS statistics show Perth won’t reach Sydney’s current population until sometime between 2050-2065.”
“There is no economic case for moving port operations for decades into the future, which is why we suspect groups like the WHA have to offer massive tax incentives and create zones where it is possible to lower standards when it comes to planning, environment, and labour laws. Its time WHA comes clean and shares their proposal for an outer harbour and SEZ with the public and disclose who their funders are.” Mr. Evans continued.
In addition to the SEZ, the MUA would ask if WHA’s vision for creating an expanded outer harbour in Cockburn Sound also contains the following as outlined in their Tradeflows report.
Does the WHA stand by their statements(s) an outer harbour in Kwinana would require:
- Converting the bridge to Garden Island Naval Base into a “lifting deck” bridge? (report 1pg 27)
- Moving the Motorplex (report 1 page 28) and has an alternate location been found?
- Cease renewing leases for Naval Base Shacks occupants? (report 1 pg 29)
- Rezone Wells Park to Industrial Use (report 1 page 29)
- Rezone all land designated for parks and recreation north of CBH to industrial use? (report 1 pg 30)
- Rezone Mandogalup to industrial, commercial, or SEZ use? (report 1 page 30)
- Dredging Cockburn Sound to a depth of 18m to accommodate Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs) into Cockburn Sound? (report 1 pg 41, report 2 pg 38)
- Are there plans to build a LNG terminal? (report 1 pg 46 & 55)
- How much federal and state funding is WHA asking to upgrade the road and rail connections to their proposed outer harbour? (report 1 pg 19, 24, 29 & more)
- What exactly is warship bunkering? (report 1 pg 55)
- Does WHA envision munitions to be exported for other countries to use? (report 1 pg 55)
It is about time WHA is as open and transparent with the public as the McGowan Labor Government has been with their Westport Process and provide details of what exactly their vision is for the $6 billion outer harbour they are lobbying to build.
Links to reports
Click here to view the 'What is in the Western Harbour Alliance's Proposal' document.
Click here to view the 'Western Trade Coast Map'.