Mark McGowan hopes to move Roe 8 workforce to other road projects

The West Australian
Mark McGowan wants to put Roe 8’s workforce to other use.
Camera IconMark McGowan wants to put Roe 8’s workforce to other use. Credit: Nic Ellis, The West Australian

The State Government has announced it will attempt to vary rather than cancel Roe 8 contracts, in a bid to swiftly redeploy the workforce to other “shovel ready” road projects within weeks.

Premier Mark McGowan and Transport Minister Rita Saffioti revealed the negotiations with the Roe 8 alliance of contractors this morning while condemning the previous government for spending more and clearing more land than necessary to get the project underway before the election.

Ms Saffioti said the State had also entered negotiations with the Federal Government to redirect $1.2 billion in funds from the scrapped Perth Freight Link, including Roe 8, to alternative projects.

VideoThe new plans for Roe 8 construction site.

During the election campaign Labor identified three “congestion busting” projects it wanted to fund instead.

They were bringing forward the $145m duplication of Armadale Road between Anstey and Tapper roads, building a $166m bridge linking Armadale and North Lake roads over the Kwinana Freeway and spending $95m to build two overpasses on Wanneroo Road over Ocean Reef Road and Joondalup Drive.

Mr McGowan said he was confident of redirecting the PFL money after meeting PM Malcolm Turnbull a week ago.

Ms Saffioti would not speculate on which works would be activated first, but said there was precedent for varying contracts to other projects without a separate competitive tender process, citing the Gateway project surrounding Perth Airport.

Jeff Miller of the Civil Contractors Association at the Roe 8 site.
Camera IconJeff Miller of the Civil Contractors Association at the Roe 8 site. Credit: Trevor Collens, The West Australian

She insisted negotiations would include “value for money components” and a lot of the unit costs built into the Roe 8 contract would be duplicated.

“This is a complex negation, this is something ideally we wouldn’t want to be in, but of course the Barnett government signed up to a contract even though they were warned of a significant cost and we now know they were being told internally they would lose the election,” she said.

The West Australian revealed Main Roads raised the option in September of delaying wetlands clearing until after March and instead commencing with the southern entrance to Fiona Stanley Hospital.

This option would have saved the public up to $27 million in work sunk into the project and rehabilitation of cleared land should the project be scrapped, but the Liberals stuck to its original plan to clear through the wetlands, requiring 50ha of rehabilitation.

Former transport minister Dean Nalder, who quit cabinet a fortnight after the advice was prepared, told ABC Mornings he didn’t recall receiving it but did remember advocating for the project to begin earlier than it did.

“I was saying if you were to do it in the middle of the election campaign that would be inappropriate,” he said.

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