WA News

Fremantle MP baits Premier Barnett after handing anti-freight link group award

Fremantle Labor MP Simone McGurk has poked fun at Premier Colin Barnett after he gave an Australian Day award to a group that has campaigned against his government's controversial Perth Freight Link.

The Rethink the Link group was formed to battle the Barnett government's plans to build the Perth Freight link which will run from Perth Airport to Fremantle Ports.

Rethink the Link protesters at one of their many rallies against Roe 8.
Rethink the Link protesters at one of their many rallies against Roe 8. Photo: ReThink The Link

The group has also been outspoken about Roe 8 - an important part of the freight link - which will see a five-kilometre extension of the highway from Kwinana Freeway in Jandakot to Stock Road in Coolbellup.

But on Tuesday, the group was given the Premier's Australian Day Active Citizen Award for a community group or event. Rethink the Link was nominated by the City of Fremantle, who is vehemently opposed to both Roe 8 and the freight link.

Ms McGurk couldn't hide her amusement about the group being given a gong.

"I did wonder if the Premier balked at signing the Premier's Australia Day Active Citizenship Award for the City of Fremantle this year," she said.

"The community group award went to Rethink the Link, an alliance of over 20 organisations who have campaigned against the government's controversial Perth Freight Link.


"There's no doubt the campaign has been a thorn in the side of the state government. 

"It's been an incredibly energetic and community-driven campaign. Participants are from across the spectrum – environmentalists, those appalled that homes will be bulldozed, and the many who are demanding from government a modern and long-term approach to infrastructure spending."

Ms McGurk said it's not the first time a Fremantle-based community group was given an Australian Day award by the Premier for opposing a WA government proposal.

In 2014, The Fremantle Forever campaign won the same award for its work against forced local council amalgamations.

"Fremantle community has a reputation for being a bit mouthy, and it's not the first time the council has nominated an anti-government campaign for this award," she said.

The Fremantle MP also has a history of antagonising the Premier.

In June last year, she called Mr Barnett "ridiculously arrogant" for threatening to renege on the WA government's plan to relocate the Department of Housing to Fremantle.

Ms McGurk made the comment after the Premier told the City of Fremantle to "not bite the hands that feeds you" - in response to the city's opposition to the Perth Freight Link and the privatisation of Fremantle Ports.

The Premier's office has been contacted for comment.