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Wednesday, 21 March 2012
Page: 3836

Mr CROOK (O'Connor) (19:57): I am very pleased to speak to the House today about the nation-building project PortLink Inland Freight Corridor Plan in my electorate. This project is a significant infrastructure development for regional Western Australia and is set to have significant national benefits. PortLink has come about after more than 25 years of consideration. At first the project was envisaged as a transport hub in Kalgoorlie-Boulder and in more recent years it has progressed into the full PortLink project linking the major ports in Western Australia—Esperance, Port Hedland, Karratha, Fremantle and, in the future, the Oakajee Industrial Port—with Kalgoorlie, as a gateway to the eastern states. It is a visionary project and I congratulate those that have kept it on the agenda over many years. In particular, I would like to congratulate and thank Graham Thomson, the former chairman of the Goldfields-Esperance Development Commission, for his leadership in developing this project.

PortLink will have many advantages for the nation. From a local member perspective, it will create jobs and improve industry within my electorate. On a state level, it will create safer roads, more connected regional communities and reduce heavy vehicle traffic around the metropolitan area. At a national level, PortLink will create a more effective transport network for the nation and will allow the resources industry to have greater access to the ports they need to export the minerals and resources that drive this nation's economy.

In recent times, I have hosted the Prime Minister and Minister Albanese in Esperance to look at the project. As recently as last weekend Mr Albanese announced $2 million of federal funding to be put towards the next stage of the project. He also attended the Over the Horizon industry forum, facilitated by the Esperance Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Goldfields-Esperance Development Commission. There were some 230 participants, including local government, businesses and industry from across the Goldfields-Esperance region, as they discussed upcoming projects and plans for future developments. This was a very appropriate event at which to announce the PortLink funding. As part of the minister's visit, I also took the opportunity to showcase many future projects in the Esperance area.

I would also like to thank the Western Australian Minister for Regional Development, my Nationals WA colleague Brendon Grylls, for his ongoing support for this project. Minister Grylls has also been a strong supporter of the PortLink project. Through Royalties for Regions, Minister Grylls and the WA state government have committed $5 million towards the planning and development of PortLink. I would also like to acknowledge MLC Wendy Duncan, who lives in Esperance, for her commitment to the PortLink project. I would like to thank all of the Esperance leaders who made the day a success. In particular, I would like to thank the CEO of the Shire of Esperance, Mal Osborne, and Shire President Mal Heasman, Esperance Port CEO Shayne Flanagan, Grant Shipp from the Esperance Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Matt Dukes from Cliffs Natural Resources and Robert Hicks from the Goldfields-Esperance Development Commission. All of these leaders have shown tireless, unwavering support to their community and to the PortLink project. PortLink has now been given the initial support needed to enter the planning and development stage and I look forward to seeing this project progress in coming years.

The SPEAKER: Order! It being 8 pm, the debate is interrupted.

House adjourned at 20:00