LIMITATIONS on container operations are central to a parliamentary inquiry into the privatisation of the Port of Newcastle.

The inquiry was announced last week.

In a document published on the New South Wales Parliament website, it was stated that the inquiry would examine the impact of “Port of Newcastle sale arrangements on public works”.

A condition of the Newcastle lease was that the lessee pay the government a per-container fee should it develop a container terminal, with critics suggesting this is anti-competitive and favours Port Botany and a proposed future terminal at Port Kembla.

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Terms of reference for the inquiry published on the NSW Parliament website say the inquiry is to examine and report on “the impact of Port of Newcastle sale arrangements on public works expenditure in New South Wales”.

This includes:

  1. The extent to which limitations on container port operations currently in place following the sale of the Port of Newcastle contribute to increased pressure for transport and freight infrastructure in New South Wales, specifically:
    1. the Westconnex Gateway project;
    2. the Port Botany Rail Line duplication;
    3. intermodal terminals and rail road connections in southwest and western Sydney;
    4. other additional public road infrastructure requirements due to the additional road freight movements in Sydney under the existing port strategy
  2. the nature and status of the port commitment deeds, the extent to which they contain limitations on container port movements, and the terms and binding nature of any such commitments;
  3. the extent to which container port limitations contribute to additional costs for NSW industries who are importing or exporting from New South Wales, especially in the Port of Newcastle catchment; and
  4. Any other related matters.

The inquiry is to report back by 28 February.

Chairing the committee is Upper House MP Robert Brown from the Shooters, Fishers and Famers party.

Other committee members include John Graham and Lynda Voltz (Labor), Justin Field (Greens), Trevor Khan (Nationals) and Scot MacDonald and Taylor Martin (Liberals).

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