Albany ring road idles

By Chris Thomson | posted on February 7, 2019

AMID mounting criticism the State was dragging the chain, Transport Minister Rita Saffioti this week revealed a request for Federal funding had finally been lodged for the Albany ring road project.

In Albany for a regional get-together with most of her State Cabinet colleagues, Ms Saffioti who has been in office for two years blamed delays on submitting the business case on the former Barnett Government having done “no work on it”.

“We had to prepare the business case from scratch,” she said.

She told The Weekender that completion of the ring road project had been submitted in April last year when the Commonwealth asked for infrastructure proposals to be delivered as part of a $3.2 billion GST top-up.

The ring road was not funded as part of that process.

In September last year, Ms Saffioti’s representative in the Legislative Council Stephen Dawson told Southwest MLC Steve Thomas that the business case lodged on Saturday was to have been provided to Infrastructure Australia late last year.

This week, Dr Thomas, a Liberal, said time was fast disappearing for the business case to be considered before the looming Federal election.

“The closer you get to the election, the harder it will be to get funding,” he said.

“This process should have been completed well before now.

“It just suggests again it’s not high on the State’s priority and that’s a bad message to send to the Federal decision makers.”

Liberal MHR for O’Connor Rick Wilson threw Ms Saffioti a curve ball by suggesting that now the GST had been equalised for Western Australia the State should consider funding the entire ring road project.

Ms Saffioti said the Commonwealth normally contributed to such projects and she “could not understand” people who suggested the ring road was not worthy of Federal support.

Nationals leader Mia Davies said the State Government had jeopardised the Great Southern’s economic development by dragging its heels on submitting the business case.

An Infrastructure Australia spokesperson confirmed the business case had been received on Saturday and was being reviewed to see if it could be accepted for formal evaluation.