by Tim Pallas, Treasurer of Victoria
In September, Victoria sealed the deal on one of the most important transactions in the state’s history – the 50-year lease of the Port of Melbourne. The significance of this $9.7 billion dollar deal and the positive effects it will yield for Victoria’s long-term economic and social wellbeing should not be understated. It will also provide a shot in the arm for the state’s already strong infrastructure pipeline.
The Port of Melbourne lease is the biggest transport transaction in Australia’s history and an emphatic vote of confidence in the Victorian economy.
The strength of this result underlines the continued high performance of the Victorian economy – we are the job-creating capital, and the fastest growing economy in the nation.
Leasing the port also reinforces the state’s position as the freight and logistics capital of Australia and will make our great port even better.
But the deal means a great deal more for Victorians.
The Andrews Labor Government promised to lease the port, remove our worst level crossings and create thousands of jobs, and that’s exactly what we are doing.
The proceeds will also help fund vital infrastructure and other important transport initiatives that continue to improve our liveability and access to jobs, education, health and social facilities.
Rural and regional Victoria will also directly benefit from this lease, with 10 per cent of the proceeds being invested in regional and rural infrastructure.
That’s in addition to a $200 million Agriculture Infrastructure and Jobs Fund that has been established that will help drive economic growth in our regions, boosting exports, helping our farmers, businesses and industries stay competitive.
This new fund will provide concrete benefits to the many thousands of hard-working farmers and regional Victorians that depend on this important sector – and the lease of the port allows the government to provide valuable infrastructure linkages from paddock to port.
The fund will be available for practical projects and programs that wholly benefit the agriculture sector, including transport, irrigation, and energy projects, as well as skills development programs and market access campaigns.
Eligible applicants will include farm businesses, industry and agribusiness organisations, asset owners such as water authorities and local government.
This government understands that agriculture and our farming families sit at the heart of rural and regional Victoria, with our food and fibre industry contributing more than $11 billion to our economy and employing more than 87,000 people.
We know that with the right support, there is an enormous opportunity for Victorian agriculture to capitalise on increasing demand from Asia’s growing middle class for our fresh, top quality produce.
Currently, the Port of Melbourne is the biggest container and cargo port in the country, visited by more than 3,000 ships each year.
The lease will make a great port even better, increasing efficiency and competitiveness, and reinforcing Victoria’s position as the freight and logistics capital of Australia.
But most importantly, leasing the port means we can get rid of Victoria’s most deadly and congested level crossings, creating thousands of jobs in the process.
Whichever way you look at it, this is a great deal for all Victorians – and a boost to the infrastructure this state needs.