Live export anger over Fremantle plan

Rueben HaleThe West Australian
Nicholas Daws at the James Point site.
Camera IconNicholas Daws at the James Point site. Credit: The West Australian

Live exporters have mocked the State Government's multimillion- dollar investment plan to upgrade the Fremantle port.

In the recent State Budget the Barnett Government announced $167.6 million would be spent to upgrade rail infrastructure and navigation aids at the port, as well as new works on import and export infrastructure.

Agriculture Minister Ken Baston and Transport Minister Dean Nalder have come out in support of the investment, saying the upgrade to the port would be "a huge advantage to agriculture" and critical to the live export industry.

However, WA Live Exporters Association chairman Nicholas Daws said there was a collective discontent in the live export industry over the State Government's decision to invest in Fremantle.

"We're going to be confined to a single berth, which is largely unsuitable because it is designed to accommodate steel imports," he said.

"When there is steel on the berth we have great difficulty with the logistics of positioning livestock loading equipment and manoeuvring our livestock and fodder transporter.

"And this greatly affects the safe and timely movement of this equipment."

Mr Daws said given the restrictions of the Fremantle port, it affected the total efficiency of the live export industry.

"The State Government has already passed up a great opportunity for an alternative port suitable for the needs of the industry with the James Point port proposal," he said.

The BGC-led James Point Pty Ltd consortium was awarded a contract by the Court Government in 1999 to build an alternate port to Fremantle in Kwinana, but the contract was later revoked by Labor and then the current government.

"That proposal was favoured by the live export industry and others because they saw it as offering solutions to growing concerns rising around noise, dust, smell, traffic congestion and community concern towards live exports," Mr Daws said. "The big problem with Fremantle is the urban encroachment, which does not mix well with a working port..

"JPPL offered a readymade solution to many of the live export concerns of the industry.

"I really hope that the State Government will reconsider its position on this issue."

Recent negotiations and a private mediation between the WA Government and JPPL have been unsuccessful, and the matter is still before the Supreme Court.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails