ANDREW Constance has announced he will seek Liberal Party pre-selection for the seat of Eden-Monaro in the Commonwealth House of Representatives.
His decision means the NSW government soon will be seeking a new transport minister, a portfolio crucial for the movement of ports and freight.
“People just want someone who can give it a go and I think I can bring something special given that state wide experience,” Mr Constance told the ABC this week.
He is to step down from Cabinet, though not immediately quit the NSW Parliament.
As a minister, Mr Constance challenged stevedores over infrastructure and terminal fees.
“Stevedores must act responsibly and immediately put a stop to any price hikes,” he said just before Christmas.
Freight and Trade Alliance director and Australian Peak Shippers secretariat Paul Zalai told Daily Cargo News he hoped the government would continue to pursue the issue.
Mr Zalai also said the minister warned DPWA against further increases on import fees scheduled for this coming Friday.
“It is a pity the minister will not around as we may never know what his response would have been to another snubbing,” he said.
“Perhaps the his successor will complete unfinished business by enforcing regulation remembering it’s the efficient movement of goods that generates national wealth, not the welfare of carriers or infrastructure owners.
“Let’s hope that the government stands up to respect and prioritise the needs of shippers.”
Container Transport Alliance Australia director Neil Chambers said he found Mr Constance to be pragmatic and open to discussions and ideas.
“He wears his heart on his sleeve sometimes, but that simply underlines his passion for his portfolios and for his electorate,” Mr Chambers said.
“Certainly a minister who appreciated you bringing to his the solutions rather than just the problems.”
Eden-Monaro is a famously marginal seat and folklore has it that it goes to whichever party holds power, though Labor MP Dr Mike Kelly has been able to buck this trend during the past three elections. It was Dr Kelly’s decision to quit on health grounds that forced a by-election for the seat on a date still to be confirmed.