Amid predictions of long-term price hikes, the Gallop Government is already moving to reduce Western Australia’s dependence on oil, according to Planning and Infrastructure Minister Alannah MacTiernan.

Ms MacTiernan said the Government had a broad-based strategy designed to minimise the State’s long-term dependence on oil.

This strategy involved:

* diversifying fuel sources;
* reducing motor vehicle dependency; and
* integrating transport and land use planning.

“For the economic, social and environmental well-being of our State, we are taking steps now to reduce our oil dependency,” the Minister said.

Diversifying fuel sources

The Government will take possession of 451 Euro 4 emission standard gas buses during the next seven years. This follows a decision in 2001 to negotiate a change in the bus purchasing deal with the Mercedes-Benz OC 500LE’s supplier, DaimlerChrysler – switching the contract from diesel to gas.

Perth is one of 11 cities across the world participating in a major trial of hydrogen fuel cell buses. Three buses will arrive in Perth later this month as part of the $10million project. An international conference on the merits of hydrogen will be staged in Perth next month.

The Government has entered into an agreement with Murdoch University that will see a series of research programs examine the benefits of hydrogen-based transport.

The Gallop Government has continued the $500 LPG vehicle subsidy scheme.

Reducing motor vehicle dependency

* The Government has embarked on the State’s biggest-ever public transport project – the $1.5billion New MetroRail Project.
* New MetroRail will double the size of Perth’s urban passenger rail system, adding over 80km of track on three lines, including a line to Mandurah, and doubling the number of railcars.
* New MetroRail will carry almost 35,000 people each weekday and take 25,000 cars off our freeways.
* Work-related patronage on the Southern Suburbs Railway alone will save almost 15million litres of fuel each year.
* General improvements to our public transport system include better security on all trains and at all stations; the new SmartRider ticketing system; major upgrades to six stations as part of the $15million Building Better Stations program; and the modernisation of the country coach fleet, rail services and town bus services.
* We are expanding our cycling network – from February 2001 to June 2004, the State Government has spent more than $50million on cycling infrastructure, with another $8million earmarked this year. The number of people using the Perth Bicycle Network has doubled during the last five years.

Integrating transport and land use planning

The Gallop Government has devised a plan to move freight more efficiently between the port and industrial areas – this will see the use of rail into Fremantle Port increase from three per cent to 30 per cent and reduce the number of trucks on our roads.

The Government has conducted the biggest community consultation – Dialogue with the City – to develop a framework to contain urban sprawl and build more dynamic local population centres around transport nodes.

The Planning and Infrastructure portfolio has also reduced the number of six-cylinder vehicles by 15 per cent in the last 12 months and has also increased the number of Toyota Prius hybrids in the fleet to 16.

“We have appointed the Transport Energy Strategy Committee to advise on how WA can best develop diversified sources of energy that are economically, environmentally and socially sustainable. These recommendations are currently under review,” Ms MacTiernan said.

Minister’s office: (08) 9213 6400