Sunday, June 28, 2015

MUA adds weight to Fremantle Road to Rail campaign

The WA branch of the Maritime Union of Australia has added its weight to the movement sweeping Perth’s southern suburbs opposing the proposed construction of the Perth Freight Link (PFL) connecting Perth Airport with Fremantle Port.

The PFL, slated to cost $2 billion is widely criticised for being poorly planned and unnecessary given that a rail freight line already connects the two points. It would also mean the destruction of the environmentally sensitive Beeliar Wetlands.

Fremantle Road to Rail Campaign organised a march through Fremantle and rally outside the council building on June 24. It was a show of support for a motion that the council was voting on that evening formally expressing its opposition to the PFL.

Addressing the rally, MUA WA secretary Chris Cain pledged MUA support for the grassroots campaign.

“We support the community concerns about this freeway and we defend the environment,” Cain told the crowd.

The PFL plan is linked to the proposed sale of Fremantle Port, Cain said. “If you look at the sale of the Port of Melbourne and the Brisbane Port privatisation you can see that privatisation drives up costs by hundreds of percent.”

“Who ends up paying for that? The consumers, it drives up prices for ordinary people, we pay for the privatisation.”

Cain said that the economic case for the privatisation is laughable. “The government wants to spend $2 billion building this road so they can get a good price for the sale of the Port,” he said. “But they already say that they expect only $1.5 billion from the sale, so where’s the logic?”

Cain told the crowd that the MUA is organising members’ meetings in all the workplaces that it covers to discuss the issue.

[This article by Barry Healy first appeared in Green Left Weekly #1058. Photos by Alex Bainbridge.]