Posted on 04. Sep, 2012 in News
Despite strong departmental advice the Baillieu Government is refusing to investigate Bay West Port as Melbourne’s second major port which could save Victorian taxpayers and industry billions of dollars, Shadow Minister for Ports, Major Projects and Infrastructure Tim Pallas said today.
Documents obtained through Freedom of Information by Labor reveal a Bay West Port situated between Werribee and Geelong should be investigated as a possible long term port facility for Victoria as it offers “significant potential advantages”.
It is also clear from the departmental advice that there are substantial problems associated with the Port of Hastings container port.
Mr Pallas said the briefing from Minister for Ports Denis Napthine’s own department of Freight Logistics and Marine painted a clear picture of potential benefits a Bay West Port may have over the Baillieu Government’s Port of Hastings plan costed by Treasury at more than $12 billion.
The advice provided to Ports Minister Denis Napthine said:
“….despite being subject to only preliminary desktop assessment, the site appears to offer significant potential advantages for the development of long term container capacity, including ample availability of suitable back up land, almost unlimited potential berth capacity and close proximity to Avalon Airport and key road and rail connections serving the metropolitan area, regional cities and south-east Australia.
“Given these factors, some uncertainties around quantum and mix of future trades at Hastings and constraints at the Port of Geelong, Bay West appears to warrant further investigation as a possible long term port facility location.
“Hastings’ capacity to accommodate containers is likely to be further diminished if other trades, like brown coal derivative products from Gippsland, emerge to compete for space at the port.”
“The documents prove there are serious concerns around Hastings particularly in regard to environmental management and the high cost of transport,” Mr Pallas said.
“They also show a Bay West Port may cost industry and the Victorian taxpayer less than the Port of Hastings and should be investigated.
“Industry is opposed to moving to the Port of Hastings and it is only Minister Napthine’s obstinacy that is stopping the investigation into potentially cheaper and better options.
“Given the billions of dollars of taxpayer’s money Mr Napthine is looking to spend it is reasonable that the government produce a cost benefit analysis to justify its case and in doing so compare it to the cost benefits of a Bay West Port.”
A LeadWest study prepared by AECOM says Hastings has major transport access challenges and may increase traffic congestion on the West Gate corridor and there are also significant hurdles around providing a standard access rail gauge to the port.
“For the Region it would increase reliance on the West Gate corridor, and providing a national standard gauge rail connection through Melbourne’s south east is difficult”.
“The Victorian Freight and Logistics Council and the Property Council of Australia have now lined up in support of the consideration of a Bay West option which would also improve employment opportunities in the west,” Mr Pallas said.
“Bay West is closer in proximity to most importers/exporters, has excellent rail and road connections which would relieve congestion on the West Gate Bridge and Monash Freeway.
“It may not be beneficial to the Victorian economy or exporters/importers who would incur extra costs and lose productivity by having their goods transported hundreds of extra kilometres across a major metropolitan area to the Port of Hastings.”
Mr Pallas said the Minister could not continue making excuses any longer, Bay West Port must be analysed to see if it is a better option than spending more than $12 billion on the Port of Hastings.
“It is not realistic for the Ports Minister to plunge headlong into his preferred port location simply because it is long stood policy,” he said.
“The Bay West option has only recently been developed and the Minister can’t ignore advice of his department and industry.
“Mr Napthine can no longer pretend that two ports outside of Melbourne – Hastings and Bay West – can realistically be delivered.
“This is just a rouse to say that $12 billion of taxpayer’s money will be expended before a serious consideration of a more potentially appropriate location can occur in 50 years time.
“This is about national priority setting and meeting community and industry expectations.”