STATE Labor says the lack of a Newcastle container terminal is harming businesses that import and export from northern New South Wales.
In joint press release, Labor’s spokesperson for roads, maritime and freight Jodi McKay and Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp criticised the government over the arrangements they say prevent such a terminal competing with Port Botany.
These criticisms have been rejected by Roads, Maritime and Freight minister Melinda Pavey.
Ms McKay said the “easy way to cut transport costs and help make businesses more competitive would be to let them move their products through Newcastle – instead of travelling a further 180 kilometres south to Port Botany”.
“The Liberals and Nationals have imposed these high costs on business located in the north of the state for decades to come,” she said.
Labor says industry sources have reported costs of about $1500 for a truck to make the return journey from Port Botany to Newcastle, including fuel, maintenance, vehicle-booking fees, surcharges and labour.
Tolls alone for travelling north from Port Botany, Labor reports, are $68.19 one way.
“Minister Melinda Pavey has to explain why her Government is imposing high transport costs on businesses that import and export from northern NSW,” Ms McKay said.
Member for Newcastle Tim Crakanthorp said a terminal would “supercharge” local job opportunities, improve linkages across the state and provide new commercial opportunities.
“It would create a new distribution hub which could use the existing heavy rail freight network to service the Hunter region and northern NSW,” Mr Crakanthorp said.
“This government has stopped all of this with an incredibly anti-competitive decision to impose a cap on the number of containers that can go across Newcastle’s wharves.”
Minister Pavey said port transaction arrangements did not prohibit the development of a container terminal at Newcastle.
“Currently, 85% of shipping containers in NSW travel no more than 40km from the Port of Botany. It is for this reason that Botany is this state’s primary container facility,” Ms Pavey said.
She said the 98-year lease of the Port of Newcastle delivered proceeds of $1.75bn to the NSW Government.
“The net proceeds from the ports transactions, along with other asset recycling proceeds, has enabled significant investment in infrastructure in the Hunter and Illawarra regions,” Ms Pavey said.
The government lists expenditure in the Hunter including:
- $403m for the Pacific Hwy upgrade;
- $150m to build the Newcastle Inner City Bypass missing link between Rankin Park and Jesmond;
- $18m for the John Hunter NICU;
- $12.7m for the Newcastle Cruise Terminal;
- $10m for the Newcastle International Hockey redevelopment;
- $24 to redevelop the Muswellbrook Hospital.
“The Future Transport document released recently included the Greater Newcastle Plan – an evidence based plan identifying the key initiatives across Cessnock, Lake Macquarie, Maitland, Newcastle and Port Stephens,” Ms Pavey said.
“This Plan looks to turn Newcastle into a true Global Gateway.”