INFRASTRUCTURE Australia’s announcement this week prioritising the development of suitable east coast deepwater container ports should come as “music to the ears” of internationally-trading businesses across the country, Port of Newcastle CEO Craig Carmody says.

The announcement was part of IA’s latest priority list and noted the need for “a network of deep water ports” along the East Coast to accommodate large ships that are currently unable to visit due to port constraints, marking the issue as a “priority initiative”.

Mr Carmody said Infrastructure Australia had correctly identified a major deficiency in the nation’s preparedness for ever-larger ships.

“The data is clear – shipping lines around the world have stopped building the ships that Australia’s ports are designed to accommodate,” Mr Carmody said.

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“While IA correctly notes that no Australian port can accommodate the larger, more energy-efficient ships carrying more than 14,000 TEUs, it is also critical to examine the constraints to existing road and rail infrastructure in handling the nation’s current and future trade volumes.”

Mr Carmody said Australia was unable to reap the benefits of potential cost reductions and efficiency opportunities across the supply chain because its ports were designed for ships that peaked in popularity at a time when Cathy Freeman was winning Gold at the Sydney Olympics.

“The world has moved on – ports overseas are now handling ships of more than 20,000 TEU at a time when Australia’s ports celebrate inefficiently accommodating a ship less than half that size, in some cases having to turn the ship around at the berth to reach containers stacked on the opposite side,” he said. “For a nation that moves 98% of its international trade by sea, being unresponsive to these global trends leaves Australia’s competitiveness and consumers disproportionately exposed.”

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