NEW South Wales Treasurer Matt Kean has appointed the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) as the independent valuer under the Port of Newcastle Extinguishment of Liability Act 2022.

IPART is the independent pricing regulator for water, public transport and local government. It acts as the licence administrator for water, electricity and gas, and it is also the market monitor for energy, the retail ethanol fuel market and biodiversity.

The Port of Newcastle Extinguishment of Liability Act 2022, passed late last year, aims to undo the part of the 2013 privatisation deal for the port that requires it to pay a penalty on container throughput over a certain threshold.

The act requires the Treasurer to appoint an independent valuer – IPART – to assess what the port lease would have cost without the penalty. The Port of Newcastle would then be required to pay the difference between that and the price of the lease to lift the requirement to pay a penalty.

The Port of Newcastle welcomed the Treasurer’s announcement, with its CEO, Craig Carmody saying the appointment marks the final step in the legislative process that will enable the port to compete in the container trade free from penalty.

“This announcement is momentous for the Port of Newcastle, the Hunter and Northern and western NSW. That is why it has support from all sides of politics,” Mr Carmody said.

“At the port, we have never been shy in speaking about our need to diversify our trade in order to future-proof the Hunter and continue to drive jobs and investment in our region. I am incredibly proud to be part of an announcement that helps turn the vision of a diversified Hunter economy into reality.”

Mr Carmody thanked independent Member for Lake Macquarie Greg Piper (who introduced the bill into Parliament) and the Treasurer, Matt Kean, for their strength of leadership in supporting the legislation, which passed Parliament in November last year.

“Greg Piper has shown great leadership in recognising the need for a container terminal in Newcastle and the benefits it would bring not just to the Hunter, but regional NSW,” Mr Carmody said.

“We also would not be here without the courage of The Member for Northern Tablelands, The Hon. Adam Marshall MP and The Member for Upper Hunter, Dave Layzell MP, along with the efforts from stakeholders across regional NSW, particularly NSW Farmers and their members.

“With this announcement, the NSW government is providing manufacturers and agri-businesses with a cost-effective alternative to export their goods will drive growth and investment both here and in the regions. This will create new opportunities for exporters and importers, that will ultimately lead to benefits for consumers.

“Now that the Treasurer has appointed the independent valuer, we look forward to seeing the process through to completion over the next six months.”