Flawed container terminal policy

Letter to the Editor: Australian Financial Review

Dear Sir,

Christopher Joye’s incisive analysis of population growth and its implications for infrastructure (AFR, “Population boom time’’, 11 April) reveals the obvious flaw in NSW government container terminal policy. Government policy is that Port Botany and Port Kembla are the “logical” locations for container terminals servicing Newcastle and northern NSW. By its actions, the government recognises that a container terminal at Newcastle port would provide immediate, significant, competition for Port Botany.

The government’s actions were terminating negotiations with Anglo Ports for a container terminal at Newcastle port in November 2013; and, charging a fee on container movements above a “cap” at Newcastle port and paying this fee to NSW Ports as ”compensation”. These actions prove that a container terminal at Newcastle port is a viable competitor and a threat to the container port monopoly that the government leased to NSW Ports in April 2013.

Population growth in Sydney will require additional transport infrastructure that will make Port Botany less accessible to Newcastle and northern NSW than it already is. There is a business case to be made for relocating the three Port Botany container terminals to Newcastle and railing all containers to a single intermodal terminal in Sydney’s outer west using a rail freight bypass of Sydney. This way, all container trucks can be removed from Sydney’s roads, all rail capacity can be used for passenger rail, all freight entering Sydney can do so by rail, and Sydney Airport’s short parallel runway can be extended into the airport site and the displaced facilities relocated to the container terminal site once vacated. The rail freight bypass of Sydney between Newcastle and Glenfield, will be paid for by moving all containers by rail and none by truck.

A cost-benefit study would prove the merit of this approach. This should be a job for Infrastructure Australia.

Greg Cameron

Florey ACT 2615

Copies to:
Infrastructure Australia
Productivity Commission
NSW Auditor-General
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