NSW Nationals backs $1.8 billion plan to boost regional jobs, cut freight costs.
Port of Newcastle today welcomed the NSW Nationals’ decision on Saturday to support the removal of obstacles preventing the development of a new privately-funded container terminal.
Port of Newcastle CEO Craig Carmody said the new policy – debated and passed by NSW Nationals members on Saturday – was a demonstration of the party’s commitment to what was in the best interests of the state’s regional economy and the importance of regional jobs.
This is further recognition of the significant economic and productivity opportunities ready to be unlocked for internationally-trading businesses throughout the state,” Mr Carmody said.
The Newcastle Container Terminal – an estimated $1.8 billion development to be entirely funded by private investors – will deliver more jobs in regional NSW, a reduction in unnecessary road and rail movements in and out of Sydney, and cheaper freight costs for importers and exporters across the state.”
Deloitte Access Economics found last year that the Port’s catchment area already generates 500,000 full TEUs (standard 20-foot shipping containers) annually – the number that could bypass congested Sydney.
As the only east coast port connected to the Inland Rail as part of the first stage, Port of Newcastle would be able to shift more freight onto the tracks via the Hunter region’s world-class heavy rail network.
Complemented by rail infrastructure right to the berth, Port of Newcastle will provide a more competitive and reliable alternative for NSW.
NSW Nationals Moree branch chairman Brendan Moylan welcomed the party’s recognition of the need for growers across the state to have access to the most efficient supply chain in order to be competitive in international markets.
Growers estimate that the cost of shipping grains and pulses such as chickpeas would fall by as much as $20 per tonne if they were exported via container from Newcastle rather than Brisbane,” Mr Moylan said.
Over a decade, that translates to about $500 million of economic benefit to North West NSW alone.”
Mr Carmody said it was great to see the NSW Nationals helping regional businesses to take control of their supply chain to get a better deal.
It is hard enough for regional NSW businesses – whether based in Coonabarabran, Dubbo, Parkes, Bourke, Moree, Narrabri, Scone or Tamworth – to make them pay the cost of supply chain inefficiency that is largely outside of their control because there is currently no competition,” Mr Carmody said.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro is unapologetic about standing up for regional industries and communities across NSW, particularly those on the land.
We look forward to working with the state and federal governments to remove the current obstacles so this private investment can flow through to regional NSW.”
“Stop Talking the City Down” ?
Two weeks ago, infrastructure and transport analyst, Greg Cameron, released the latest update on his battle for transparency in the ongoing dispute between the NSW government, the ACCC, and NSW port operators.
Mr Cameron wrote:
The NSW government declines to nominate its authority to charge a fee for container traffic at the Port of Newcastle and to pay this fee to the lessee of Port Botany and Port Kembla, NSW Ports.
The government did not inform the public, the Parliament or the ACCC about its decision in 2012 to charge the Newcastle fee and pay it to the lessee of Port Botany and Port Kembla.
Two acts of Parliament were passed authorising the respective ports to be leased: the “Ports Assets (Authorised Transactions) Act 2012” and the “Ports Assets (Authorised Transactions) Amendment Act 2013”.
Neither act allows the government to pay NSW Ports using consolidated revenue.
The government’s actions were exposed by “The Newcastle Herald” in July 2016.
Government policy announced in July 2012 was that a container terminal would not be developed at the Port of Newcastle. The ACCC said in 2013 that the government was unlikely to be carrying on a business for the purposes of the “Competition and Consumer Act 2010” from at least the date it announced a container terminal would not be developed at Newcastle.
A container terminal can be developed at the Port of Newcastle if the developer pays the government’s fee. But the fee makes it uneconomic to develop a container terminal.
In May, the Member for Newcastle, Mr Tim Crakanthorp MP, asked the Treasurer, The Hon Dominic Perrottet MP, to nominate the government’s authority, with this question on notice:
155 – NEWCASTLE PORT
Crakanthorp, Tim to the Treasurer
May 9 2019
1. What authorisation did the Government obtain to require a developer of a container terminal at the Port of Newcastle to reimburse the Government for any cost the Government incurs in paying compensation to a lessee of Port Botany and Port Kembla, for container traffic at the Port of Newcastle above a minimal specified cap?
2. Did the Government lease the Port of Newcastle for the purpose of requiring a developer of a container terminal at the Port of Newcastle to reimburse the Government for any cost the Government incurs in paying compensation to NSW Ports for container traffic at the Port of Newcastle above a minimal specified cap?
3. Does the Government have a source of funds, other than the developer of a container terminal at the Port of Newcastle, to reimburse the Government for any cost the Government incurs in paying compensation to NSW Ports, for container traffic at the Port of Newcastle above a minimal specified cap?
4. Did Hastings Funds Management write to the Government in 2013 proposing that the Government should require a developer of a container terminal at the Port of Newcastle to reimburse the Government for any cost the Government incurs in paying compensation to NSW Ports, for container traffic at the Port of Newcastle above a minimal specified cap?
Answer June 13 2019
The Port of Newcastle transaction unlocked valuable resources which have been used to revitalise central Newcastle. Newcastle received $340 million of the gross proceeds from the transaction, alongside investment from the Government, which was able to fund and build the Newcastle CBD Light Rail.
The opening and successful operation of the Newcastle Light Rail throughout the CBD is a sign of the Government’s commitment to Newcastle, alongside our major investments in health and schools in the area.
We encourage the Opposition to stand with the Government to support Newcastle and stop talking the city down.