Pollies fling barbs in ring road rage

Toby HusseyAlbany Advertiser
The Chester Pass Road roundabout.
Camera IconThe Chester Pass Road roundabout. Credit: Laurie Benson

The gloves are off in the Albany Ring Road dispute between State and Federal politicians with accusations of incompetence and failure flying in both directions.

The mud-slinging between WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti and O’Connor MP Rick Wilson was the latest in an ongoing game of handball over responsibility for the failure to receive Commonwealth funding for the project.

The Albany Advertiser last week revealed Main Roads’ business case for the ARR to Infrastructure Australia, submitted in February, had been rejected because it was incomplete.

Ms Saffioti later blamed Mr Wilson for the lack of enthusiasm for the project in Canberra.

“Rick Wilson has failed dismally in getting the attention of his Federal colleagues to fund this project,” Ms Saffioti said.

“The full-back for Albany Football Club has probably kicked more goals for Albany than Mr Wilson.

“If he spent more time doing his job and lobbying for local projects, we might have more funding.”

Mr Wilson hit back, questioning whether the State Government was “deliberately stalling” given it had not submitted a completed business case for the project after two years in power.

“The WA Minister for Transport is becoming a laughing stock in Canberra due to her incompetence,” he said.

“The rules around projects costing over $100 million are extremely clear in that it needs to be assessed by Infrastructure Australia before Federal funding is forthcoming.

“Until the project has been assessed by Infrastructure Australia it cannot be funded by the Federal Government and the State Government is well aware of this.”

Mr Wilson suggested the State could redirect money from its abandoned Carnegie Clean Energy wave energy project and its GST top-up.

The State was hoping to fund 20 per cent of the project, with the Federal Government to pick up the remainder.

Mr Wilson said using more State money would make the project “more competitive” in Canberra.

Stage one of the ARR was completed in 2007, but stages two and three have stalled without a Federal funding commitment.

WA Labor pledged $35 million towards the project in as a 2017 election commitment, but it has since failed to make it onto two annual Federal priority project lists.

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