Guest Article - Westport: planning for WA's future freight network


The Committee for Perth’s Bigger and Better Beyond the Boom (B4) report highlights the need for:

  • Projects that catalyse economic development
  • Long-term planning that is unhindered by political cycles
  • Collaboration between government, industry and research organisations
  • Taking advantage of Perth’s competitive advantages

The Westport project was designed to achieve these objectives.

Formed in September 2017, Westport consists of a multi-disciplinary cross-government team led by Independent Chair, Nicole Lockwood, and the Directors General and Chairman of eight State Government agencies. The wider Westport Taskforce comprises more than 80 organisations from all levels of government, industry and academia, along with environmental and community groups.

Westport has been tasked with delivering a sustainable and globally responsive supply chain strategy to optimise freight, trade and logistics needs for Perth and the South West for the next 50 to 100 years. Westport is considering the whole supply chain with a focus on the port precincts at Fremantle, Kwinana and Bunbury, to assess the best ways of handling the forecasted future freight needs of south west Western Australia.

The efficient movement of freight,  which mainly consists of the items we use and consume every day,  is critical to the economy. With the population of Perth set to double within decades and the freight task escalating in tandem, it is essential that the State plans for any necessary enhancements or expansions of existing infrastructure, or the development of new infrastructure, well in advance. This will ensure the most strategic use of State funds while ensuring Perth can capitalise on future trade opportunities while not being overrun with congestion.

Additionally, Westport is assessing the use of industrial land in the Fremantle, Kwinana and Bunbury precincts to facilitate industrial expansion and symbiosis, while building in flexibility to cater for budding industries such as energy minerals, defence, tourism and advanced manufacturing, as well as new industries that may emerge in the future. 

As the Committee for Perth’s research demonstrated, the Kwinana Industrial Area is one of WA’s most important economic assets, contributing $15.77 billion per annum and generating jobs and innovation. Westport is investigating if and how this area can be further enhanced through additional port facilities and better transport networks, while protecting key environmental assets such as Cockburn Sound.  

WA’s location puts us in the prime position to become Australia’s main trade gateway to Asia. We have the closest proximity to some of Australia’s largest trading partners in China, India, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand, all with growing populations and increasing demand. Australia’s economy relies heavily on primary industry exports including oil and gas, iron ore, minerals and food products -meat/livestock, grain, wine and boutique foods such as crayfish and truffles, while our population is also reliant on imports to support our lifestyle.

Westport’s long-term, 100-year timeframe gives Perth a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to develop a future-proofed strategy that integrates world’s best practice, reserves necessary land now, and provides certainty to stakeholders, residents and investors.

Westport has launched an online consultation portal at where anyone interested in the project can provide feedback on important topics such as the environment, land use and transport planning. The portal currently allows people to leave comments on an interactive map and will also have surveys, polls, interactive forums and submission forms.

Westport is committed to undertaking a consultative, data-driven process, and will be considering all input provided through the portal and thanks the Committee for Perth for sharing this article with its members and stakeholders. 

Other articles from Insight, November 2018 (view email newsletter):