REGIONAL industry group the Hunter Business Chamber says it is heartened by support for a Newcastle container terminal.
The issue recently returned to prominence when the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission expressed concerns about arrangements that may have previously prevented or limited such a development.
Chief executive Bob Hawes said the Chamber had advocated for the growth and diversification of trade in Newcastle Port for a long time.
“We understand there is broad support from councils throughout the Port’s catchment area extending deep into NSW, with many making submissions to the NSW Government regarding its Draft Freight and Ports Plan, highlighting the benefits of a Newcastle container terminal that go beyond just the Hunter,” Mr Hawes said.
“A Newcastle container terminal could deliver rail transport cost savings of more than 30% for exporters including farmers, producers and manufacturers in the central west and northern NSW, compared with Port Botany.”
Mr Hawes said exporters were currently paying more to send their goods further afield to Port Botany.
“A Newcastle container terminal would give them the choice of export and import port and could deliver substantial cost savings that would boost their international competitiveness,” he said.
There have been suggestions stevedore DPW Australia has taken an interest in the concept.
A DPWA spokesperson said the company was “in regular dialogue with its stakeholders and interested parties across the country on how to serve its customers, regionally as well, and how to deliver them the best outcome for the import and export of goods”.
“Clearly that is best practice corporate planning,” the spokesperson said.
“At this stage DP World Australia has nothing to further to say regarding the matter.”
Mr Hawes, meanwhile, noted a report by Deloitte Access Economics indicating there was currently around $27.6bn in planned investment to support port freight in NSW.
“By providing a level playing field for a Newcastle container terminal, the NSW Government can leverage the capacity that already exists within the Port of Newcastle and its existing road and rail supply chains, and save billions of dollars which can be invested in other priority projects for the state,” Mr Hawes said.
“The Port of Newcastle could help reduce the strain on Sydney’s transport network, reducing congestion and delaying the urgency of some costly infrastructure projects now and in the future.
“Container movements at the Port of Newcastle would support regional growth and development in the Hunter and across NSW more broadly and it is critical that government is identifying and preserving those corridors that will enable this to happen.
“We need to do broader planning now and lock in transport and service corridors for rail and road to protect the port and the community that sits alongside this vital infrastructure.”