A report into the amalgamation of Southern Ports Authority has found the intended benefits of the merger have been partly achieved, but further refining is still required.

The former Albany, Bunbury and Esperance port authorities were merged to form the Southern Ports Authority in October 2014, as part of the first tranche of port governance reforms.

In August 2017, three years on from the merger, Minister for Transport,  Rita Saffioti, announced a post-implementation review to assess whether the intended outcomes were achieved.

The review panel was chaired by Agricultural Region MLC Laurie Graham and included representatives from the Department of Transport and the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation.

The report concludes that the expected benefits of amalgamation have been partially realised, and there is not a case to de-amalgamate Southern Ports, either in whole or in part.

It found evidence of improved availability and use of port infrastructure, better decision-making, higher governance standards and efficiency gains through economies of scale.

“I will be working through the Board to ensure that the necessary work to continually improve is undertaken,” Ms Saffioti said.

“I also acknowledge that Southern Ports Authority will be facing major challenges, particularly in Esperance Port, responding to trade changes over the coming year that are outside its control.

“I look forward to the port moving forward in close consultation with its employees, port users and the local community to meet those challenges.”

However, the report also found some minor problems experienced have been the result of deficiencies in implementation, rather than amalgamation itself. For example, the review panel found:

  • There was a deficiency in change management processes, both pre and post-amalgamation
  • That issues exist in the organisational culture of Southern Ports, but that they are isolated rather than systemic, and that the Authority should continue to implement its cultural change action plan
  • There is a strong perception in Albany and Esperance that the amalgamation has weakened links with the local community

A full copy of the report can be found at https://www.transport.wa.gov.au/SPAreview.

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