Eric Charlton

Eric Charlton

Former Minister for Transport

    Rural communities warned of a Labor Party push to discredit rural transport projects

    12/05/1998 12:00 AM



    Transport Minister Eric Charlton today warned people living and working in rural communities of a Labor Party push to kill off TransformWA projects in country areas.


    "People need to be on ‘red alert' because the Labor Party is currently discrediting rural transport projects which do not show a huge return on capital investment," Mr Charlton said.


    "There is a view in the Labor Party that if a project does not at least achieve double its return on money invested, then it should not be built at all.


    "Using this criteria Western Australia would return to the bad old days when the development of transport infrastructure, particularly in rural and regional areas, was totally neglected.


    "Labor's agenda is to deprive people living in these sometimes remote and developing regions of Western Australia of their chance at getting a decent road which will improve their quality of life and reduce their cost of living.


    "Alannah MacTiernan has naturally come out in support of the Tonkin and Roe Highway projects because they are in her own electorate but Labor Party pressure is forcing her to slate the regional projects."


    "I would be interested in the reception she would get if she went to Wiluna or Mt Magnet and announced she wanted to scrap their roads.


    "She is not in touch and has no concept of the role an efficient transport network plays in the development of the State's economy."


    Mr Charlton said Ms MacTiernan should be quizzed over her support of Professor Peter Newman who advocated the construction of light rail in the metropolitan area instead of roads.


    "Professor Newman and Ms MacTiernan would forsake regional Western Australia in order to develop a toy railway which could not pass even the smallest test in terms of economic return on investment," Mr Charlton said.


    "Professor Newman has never once said how he would fund his railway system, how he would find an alignment for its myriad of spurs, or exactly what it would achieve.


    "The task of completing the missing links in Western Australia's road freight transport network would be simply cast aside as the ALP did in the past.


    "People in Mt Magnet, Wiluna, the wheatbelt and other parts of regional Western Australia are being categorised as irrelevent by the likes of Professor Newman and Ms MacTiernan because their transport projects have been deemed as unimportant.


    "If every Government project or initiative was solely dependent on economic return then very little would be done, and that includes the provision of health services, education and public transport."


    Mr Charlton said the State Government came to office with a well-documented plan and obligation to provide the community with the maximum level of service possible and deliver social equity to people no matter where they might live or work.


    "TransformWA is a fully-funded and balanced program which addresses social, needs, as well as the economic, safety, transport efficiency and other considerations," he said.


    "The Government will continue to provide services and not only be driven by basic economic formulae.


    "Unlike the ALP, this Government serves the interests of people living outside metropolitan Perth and intends to cater for their transport needs and provide decent roads for social and business interaction between regional communities."


    Media contact: Doug Cunningham 9321 7333