Major infrastructure project investments are getting a boost under the Western Australian Government’s WA Recovery Plan in order to create jobs and support the economy. 

Investments in defence, port and harbour infrastructure, and serviced land to help establish new business and research facilities will deliver a pipeline of jobs for Western Australians as the state recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Western Australian Government will accelerate infrastructure works to expand the state’s defence industry capability, increasing the state’s already strong footprint in marine repair, maintenance and construction.

This aligns with Western Australia’s commitment to defence industry development and leverage its skills and training.

Western Australian Defence Issues Minister, Paul Papalia, said, “Defence industry projects offer incredible opportunities for the state, and these investments in the AMC will further strengthen our capacity to secure high-value, job-creating work.

“Defence contracts will provide the kind of long-term stimulus the state will need to support our economy as we manage the impacts of COVID-19.

“The State Government is fast-tracking these projects to ensure we have the infrastructure in place to meet the needs of Defence, and continue to enhance the AMC’s reputation as Australia’s key defence industry hub.”

Australian Marine Complex upgrade

Henderson’s Australian Marine Complex (AMC), the state’s major industrial hub, is set for an $87.6 million upgrade.

Western Australian Premier, Mark McGowan, said, “The WA Recovery Plan is focused on creating a pipeline of local jobs to support WA’s economic recovery while putting strong foundations in place to strengthen our industries and plan for the jobs of the future. 

“Our investment in improvement works and our state’s infrastructure will boost a range of industries over the short and longer terms, which is a key part of our recovery journey. 

“Importantly, the infrastructure and planning upgrades will pave the way for further growth in commercial and industrial precincts, our defence, manufacturing, resources, exports and marine sectors.

“It’s with this strong investment that will give the private industry some confidence that we have a robust recovery plan which we’re implementing, and we hope this spurs the private sector into supporting the economic recovery efforts and that they push on with new projects and developments.”

It is expected that the upgrade will create up to 600 local jobs, boost opportunities for local industry and grow Western Australia’s capacity to undertake future defence work as part of the WA Recovery Plan

The investment includes a major wharf extension and upgrade, the design of a new finger wharf, a new vessel transfer path, three road intersection upgrades and a new shipbuilding hall.

The extension to AMC Berth 1 will create a new berth and enable the facility to accommodate all Royal Australian Navy Vessels, including Anzac class frigates, Arafura class Offshore Patrol Vessels, and the future Hunter class frigates. 

Design work will also include a new finger wharf to support Collins class and Attack class submarines, and the capacity to support larger classes of naval vessels.

The new vessel transfer path will create greater connectivity and resilience across the AMC, between the floating dock and shipbuilding and sustainment facilities, including ASC, BAE and Civmec.

Western Australian Ports Minister, Alannah MacTiernan, “Investing in our publicly-owned port infrastructure is absolutely critical to maintaining and expanding our critical export industries.

“We are a trading state, and our economic prosperity relies on our ports: iron ore, gas, grains, alumina and woodchips are driving our export opportunities and underpinning employment across the state. 

“This $158.8 million package will upgrade vital infrastructure at ports across WA, driving ongoing trade opportunities while stimulating local economies in the regions.”

Upgrades to three road intersections will increase capacity and safety, reduce vehicle congestion and improve access.

The new shipbuilding hall in the northern shipbuilding precinct, will activate underutilised waterfront land to support commercial shipbuilding and sustainment.

This will free up strategic land for naval sustainment activities to support the Navy and ASC West. 

Further funding will provide ongoing support to the Henderson planning team, continue implementation of the Strategic Infrastructure and Land Use Plan, and improve management of the precinct’s Common User Facility. 

The investment further demonstrates Western Australia’s commitment to securing more Federal Defence work, such as Collins class submarine Full Cycle Docking and further opportunities.

Port investments

Significant investment in Western Australia ports is expected to drive ongoing trade through the regional areas and will support growth through the state, creating jobs and stimulating the economy. It’s also expected to complement and encourage private investment across regional areas by increasing import and export capacity.

The $158.8 million worth of port improvements includes:

  • $20 million for Port Hedland’s Inner Harbour for retaining and sea walls
  • $51.2 million for Pilbara’s Nelson Point Tug Haven for retaining and sheet pile walls
  • $7.6 million to support the development of an LNG bunkering hub in the Pilbara, already announced
  • $11.6 million towards works at the Geraldton Port and Fishing Boat Harbour to improve amenities and access as well as support export capability in the Main Harbour, already announced
  • $31.3 million to resurface and upgrade the stockyard area, for structural repairs, electrical upgrades and a new Clinker Storage Facility at the Kwinana Bulk Terminal
  • $3 million towards a second road hopper to improve loading and logistics, and for fire and safety system upgrades and replacements at Bunbury Port
  • $3 million towards refurbishments to the underdeck access and protective coating to extensions at the Broome Port Wharf
  • $15 million for the Turkey Point access bridge at Bunbury Port, already announced
  • $10.2 million towards priority works at Esperance Port to increase import and export capacity
  • $5.9 million to replace critical electrical infrastructure at the Fremantle Fishing Boat Harbour and Commercial precinct  

Greenbushes rail line feasibility study

In addition to works being undertaken across Western Australia’s ports, $3.8 million is being committed to prepare a feasibility study for upgrades and new infrastructure at the Port of Bunbury and Kwinana Bulk Terminal to support the possible reopening of the Greenbushes rail line.

In addition, about $100 million of funding will go towards further industry development initiatives, including:

  • $20 million towards a Robotics and Automation physical test facility, as part of a 94-hectare precinct north of the current Neerabup industrial estate, to support research facilities
  • $7.5 million to provide serviced land for businesses, supporting major projects in the Kemerton Strategic Industrial Area
  • $7.5 million to prepare and refurbish communications infrastructure networks within Bentley Technology Park
  • $8.4 million towards the implementation of the Murujuga Rock Arts strategy to progress more opportunities to unlock tourism potential and create jobs
  • $1 million to upgrade the Newman Wastewater Treatment Plant 

Diesel railcar maintenance facility

The Western Australian Government is also investing an additional $40.1 million to build a new diesel railcar maintenance facility.

The diesel facility will be situated at the site of the new world-class Bellevue facility, where the new 246 C-Series railcars will soon be manufactured, tested and maintained for decades to come.

Underpinned by the State Government’s $1.3 billion METRONET railcar program, a contract to build the diesel facility will be awarded in 2021.

The centre will provide maintenance and cleaning facilities for the new Australind, the existing Prospector and AvonLink railcars, as well as the high-tech new Infrastructure Diagnostic Vehicle and PTA’s locomotive U201, which provides track maintenance and rail shunting services across the network.

Stage one of the new Bellevue railcar facility is on track for completion in late-2020.

Seven METRONET projects are currently underway, to support and create local jobs while providing opportunities for local businesses.

To further boost local manufacturing opportunities in Western Australia and create local jobs, the State Government will form an action group to investigate the viability of manufacturing and maintaining iron ore railcar wagons in the Pilbara or other parts of Western Australia.

It is expected the study will support initiatives that create long-term competitiveness of the steel fabrication industry in Western Australia in supplying the iron ore sector to support jobs into the future, and explore maintenance opportunities linked to both new and existing ore wagon stock.

“The Bellevue plant is where Western Australia’s biggest ever order of railcars will be built, tested and maintained for decades to come,” Ms Saffioti said.

“Around 250 railcars will be produced at Bellevue over the next decade, while it will also serve as a permanent maintenance facility for the expanded METRONET fleet. 

“This new $40 million diesel maintenance facility will be a new key element to the services provided at Bellevue and will provide local job and training opportunities for local Western Australians.

“The first stage of the Bellevue facility will be completed later this year with the first lot of new C-Series trains rolling out in late 2022.”

A report from the study is anticipated to be completed in late-2020. 

Cathode active manufacturing

Another key local manufacturing initiative – as part of the $92.4 million package – is $13.2 million in project funding to attract a global cathode active materials manufacturer to establish a production facility in Western Australia.

The cathode active manufacturing initiative includes incentives to offset project costs, such as land lease rates on industrial land to help businesses establish and keep local jobs in Western Australia.

This is expected to strengthen Western Australia’s position as a world leader in future battery minerals, materials, technology and expertise in global battery supply chains – and supports the implementation of the Western Australian Future Battery Industry Strategy.

Other initiatives part of the local manufacturing boost include:

  • $600,000 to assess viability of a Collie Eco-Concrete Processing Plant which will analyse the benefits of Collie based concrete manufacturing using waste fly-ash from coal powered stations instead of imported cement
  • $15 million towards developing waste paper and cardboard processing capacity to support the COAG Waste Export Ban
  • $20 million in grants and industrial land to support the development of local waste processing capabilities and to implement the COAG Waste Export Ban  
  • These initiatives complement a $3.5 million investment, already announced, in Local Capability Fund rounds to boost local manufacture of personal protective equipment (PPE) for Australia’s COVID response 

“Boosting local manufacturing to create a pipeline of WA jobs, will help our state become more self-sufficient and rebound from COVID-19 stronger than ever,” Premier McGowan said.

“WA is primed to join the supply chain of major industries and sectors like renewable energy, conservation, mining and construction. This package is about giving local businesses confidence to establish themselves, make local products and keep jobs here in WA.

“Boosting our manufacturing industry means more local jobs, more training and more apprenticeship opportunities for Western Australians for generations to come.

“One of my Government’s key election commitments was to return railcar manufacturing back to the Midland area. 

“We’re delivering on this and now we’re doing what we can to ensure we’re removing interruptions in supply chains and allowing local businesses to take advantage of the great manufacturing opportunities in our state.”

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