State Government Infrastructure WA Strategy for Public Comment

Position Paper

August 2021

Context:

The Fremantle Chamber of Commerce made a formal submission as part of the State Government’s request for public comment on their draft Infrastructure WA Strategy.

The submission represents the collective views of the authorised representatives of the Fremantle Chamber of Commerce (FCC) and the Development and Infrastructure (D&I) Committee and the FCC Tourism Committee regarding that next phase. Chamber member feedback that was requested to be included, is also reflected in this Position Paper.

In regard to the Committees themselves, they work together collaboratively on Chamber positions and while individual committee member positions are voiced, the group agrees and moves forward on a group agreed collective view position. What is contained within this Position Paper- is that agreed collective view from the Committees, as well as individual summarised feedback received from Chamber members that was requested to be captured and included.

The D&I Committee is an industry collective body representing the interests of The Fremantle Chamber of Commerce commercial and economic development leaders from the following Fremantle businesses comprising of: Notre Dame, Slavin Architects, Urban Design Lab, Fremantle Ports, Stageworks, FPS Commercial Property, Acton Property Fremantle, KPMG and Yolk Property. The Committee reports directly to the FCC Board.

The Tourism Committee is also an industry collective body representing the interests of The Fremantle Chamber of Commerce tourism business leaders from Fremantle Markets, WA Maritime Museum, Fremantle Prison, Hello Perth, The Esplanade by Rydges Hotel, Fremantle Tours, Little Creatures, Sealink/Captain Cook and The Old Synagogue.

The position contained within, also reflects the outcomes of the most recent Chamber Marine & Engineering Think Tank which brought together the leaders of this industry from Fremantle Ports, AMC Common User Facility, Fremantle Ports, TAMS Group, Echo Yachts, MG Kailis Marine, L3 Harris, Fremantle Pilots, Fremantle Seaweed, For.Blue, Cool Technology and Acutec Marine Services.

These Committees are committed to the maintenance of the commercial, heritage, tourist attraction and social fabric of Fremantle, and the strategic development of Fremantle in a manner that promotes the unique qualities of the Greater Fremantle region. The Committees consider the heritage character, marine history, vibrant cultural and community foundation upon which the city is built, provides considerable potential for the revitalisation and facilitation of growth of Fremantle into the future.

Chamber’s Position:

The Chamber has reviewed Infrastructure WA’s State Infrastructure in detail. There are a number points of consideration that relate more broader to the context in which the strategy has been developed and presented, and others that relate to specific strategy items.

Strategic Context

Western Australia is part of a national and global economy, and infrastructure provision is a significant platform for the future of the state and its growth. The Strategy should be set in context, outlining any precedents that were followed in the development of the strategy, the points of difference in the strategy against these precedents and how the strategy can be developed or adapted into the future as technology, climate change and other global initiatives begin to come to a stronger reality.

Whilst COVID-19 is mentioned significantly throughout the report, it appears to capture a moment in time rather than looking at the long-term impacts – both positive and negative – in terms of implications for infrastructure provision.

Strategic Initiatives

The Chamber wishes to note the Southern Corridor Transport Project, marine and infrastructure- particularly the linking of the harbours down to the Australian Marine Centre (AMC) in planning for the move of the container port and Fremantle regional planning as an urban centre, are noticeably absent from the draft strategy.

What is also noticeably absent from the port relocation plan is how the government plans to support new industry and ensure Fremantle remains attractive from a tourism, marine and commercial perspective. The Future of Fremantle Committee is a start but we suggest this needs to operate in concert with the Infrastructure WA strategy, which has no mention of Fremantle future planning beyond the port relocation.

The lack of strategy and/or investment in Fremantle post-container port relocation is obviously concerning. In particular, the expectation appears to be that non-container trade be consolidated or moved as well (ref. recommendation 63).

We seek better articulation of what infrastructure will be retained and invested in Fremantle (i.e. infrastructure to support maintaining marine administrative functions, boat servicing, Superyacht facilities or other such initiatives) due to the comparative advantages associated with doing so.

It is the view of our leading commercial, tourism and infrastructure businesses that the strategy needs to reinforce Fremantle as a significant urban centre and the opportunities that arise with the container port relocation. Previous planning of the greater metropolitan area that has embraced suburban sprawl and in turn contributed to the undesirable “ring-worm” effect on long established urban centres such as Fremantle, has not acknowledged nor strengthened the vital role that urban centres play in sustainable development and vibrant metropolises.

Other notable absences from the strategy were Tourism (be it the infrastructure it requires, or the industry itself) from the nine elements, the active development and planning for infrastructure that supports and drives our marine and coastal diversity of uses into the future, the technology shifts and changes required to support commercial development and growth into the future, and change of infrastructure uses into the future e.g. the growth of cycling.

The Chamber supports the focus and investment in digital transformation and connectivity – particularly for the Fremantle region which has traditionally had poor coverage and investment.

Strategic Recommendations

In review of the content as part of the public consultation process, The Chamber noted the following areas within the draft strategy that directly relates to infrastructure development within the Chamber area of influence and would like to raise for consideration:

  • Page 192 Heavy Rail is very CBD centric and existing network focused, though it does allow for considerations around meeting transport needs of the future e.g., light rail, trackless trams etc. The Chamber would like to see greater articulation of the rail network, or the network of the future, to include Fremantle as a significant urban center and major driver of local, national and international visitation.
  • Recommendation 54 in reference to “Refresh State-Wide Strategic Transport Planning,” the draft strategy references a 20-year-plus transport plan, however links to the Southern Corridor should be considered as part of that plan.
  • Recommendation 56 in reference to “Planning for station precinct urban intensification and better connectivity to educational facilities and other activity precincts,” it should note Fremantle as part of an urban precinct station that requires redevelopment.
  • Recommendation 58 Investigating the feasibility of long-term major projects – East Wanneroo Rail Link, Bunbury Fast Rail and Perth metropolitan orbital rail route, are all noted, though there is no direct reference to Fremantle or the southern corridor which is a vital consideration in light of the Westport decision making process and planning for the Future Fremantle Committee.
  • Recommendation 59 The strategy notes light rail and/or bus rapid transit for the next stage in priority investment for major public transport infrastructure, with a focus on the CBD and inner-middle ring suburbs. It also notes that independent local Government work has progressed planning for Fremantle to Murdoch transport corridor opportunities, but there is no clear strategic direction. How does the State Government plan to engage important stakeholders, to build on the work already been done in that space, so catchment areas outside of priority areas can be considered too?
  • Recommendation 63 Is significant in that it relates to the development of the Port and developing a long-term Inner Harbour Masterplan to support future redevelopment, including transport network capacity. This needs to be more clearly articulated. A 1993 study showed that the economic influence of Fremantle’s container port was traditionally under-estimated and it in fact accounted for more than 10,200 jobs and $270 million into the local economy. This is likely to have grown significantly since that time and this loss is going to have significant implications for Fremantle.While Westport planning has focused on future container port requirements, the Fremantle Inner Harbour also caters to various other trades, including motor vehicles, live animals, cruise ships and scrap metal, as well as provides a significant draw for another marine based services and activities. Less lucrative than containers, these trades and services are nonetheless important and must be catered for and considered into the future. Cruise shipping, Superyacht berths, maintenance of boat lifting and servicing facilities at Fishing Boat Harbour and Rous Head, and even the potential link to a move for the Indian Pacific railway to Fremantle to link into the cruise industry, should be articulated and considered.
  • Recommendation 64 Notes the Australian Marine Complex, but again makes no link back to Fremantle as the regional headquarters for marine-based businesses.

Work Done to Date:

The Chamber expressed to Chamber members that they would be submitting a formal response and made a call-out to all Chamber members for comment and feedback by Friday August 20, 2021 via the August 12 edition of The Chamber Weekly newsletter.

The Chamber has utilised that member feedback, as well as group agreed collective feedback gathered from the Chamber Committees, to formalise a response as part of this consultation process. This position paper will also be provided on the Chamber website.

If you are interested in reading the Chamber’s other Advocacy Position Papers including our position on the Southern Transport Corridor, please refer to our website link here.