While Fremantle will always remain a port, cargo handling is reaching its limits with:
The international trade opportunities that WA can position itself to secure are dynamic and subject to intense competition from other trading states/nations. For WA to be competitive in the future a new port is required in Kwinana. The alternative is stagnation and decline.
Plans for the new port go back to the 1950’s, and in recent decades there have been numerous attempts to develop the port. Due to a variety of circumstances these have stalled. The opportunity to finally develop the port and capture the benefits of state development for future generations is possible now. Seizing the opportunity with due urgency is the challenge facing our governments and community.
Why the urgency to build a new port at Kwinana?
There are many reasons to build the new port in Kwinana sooner not later.
According to the most recent research most compelling reasons are to:
- Stimulate WA’s economic development through major construction
- Provide the scale and international competitiveness needed for exporters
- Generate demand for the development of the existing vacant industrial land within the Western Trade Coast
- Improve the supply chain and address deficiencies that compromise the efficiency of the Fremantle inner harbour
- Underpin the justification for long term investment in the required infrastructure so that the port and integrated supply chain can improve international competitiveness
- Provide an opportunity to integrate an Industrial Park / Special Economic Zone into a new and modernised port providing the local industrial environment for increased processing of raw materials thereby diversifying the economy and creating jobs.
Why build the Kwinana outer harbour when there is still capacity in the inner harbour?
Claims persist that there is plenty of capacity at Fremantle’s port and that a new Kwinana Harbour is not needed for some years to come.
‘Capacity’ can be defined in different ways.
- “From an engineering perspective it is defined as the maximum technical possible utilisation rate that can be achieved in the short-run with existing port facilities and resources; infrastructure, equipment, labour, technology etc”.
- A practical or effective capacity is achieved at a quality of service to customers while incorporating tolerable levels of congestion.
- The economic capacity of a port is the capacity beyond which the average operating costs for the port activities and services begin to rise.
- There is also a theoretical capacity and this is based on growth in trade being linked to the economic activity within the state. Over recent years the lower level of economic activity translates into a longer theoretical life of the inner harbour port.
Interviews undertaken with several trading companies held that “the Fremantle inner harbour reached practical, effective and economic capacity some time ago, even though from a design and theoretical perspective it may appear otherwise. The supply chain issues, congestion, rail limitations, together with the need to upgrade existing infrastructure and relentless international competition, will continue to put cost pressures on the WA industry and the State’s economic wellbeing.”
According to Lloyd’s list in 2014 “Fremantle ranked 138th in container traffic volumes behind Auckland 124th, Cape Town 115th and Montreal 92nd, indicating it is a minor international port. For WA, it is important
to focus on achieving international competitiveness because WA’s primary customers and trading partners are international”.
Ref: Edwards, C. ‘Tradeflows and the Development of Westport’, Infranomics, 2018