An inquiry by a NSW parliamentary committee has found that the conditions of sale for Port Botany privatisation were not disclosed to the public or to Parliament.
The Public Works Committee found that the Port Commitment Deeds (PCDs) for the Port Botany, Port Kembla and Port of Newcastle transactions were not disclosed.
While the inquiry was established to consider the impact of the Port of Newcastle sale arrangements in the state’s public works expenditure, it also considered the extent to which the PCDs limit container movements.
The Committee found the effect of these PCDs was to make the development and operation of a container terminal at the Port of Newcastle uneconomic for the next fifty years.
Moreover, it found that the limitations on Newcastle container port operations following the ports transactions have not significantly impacted expenditure required on transport infrastructure projects in Sydney.
In light of these findings, the Parliamentary Committee made several recommendations.
First, it called for the establishment of an inquiry into the ports transactions, specifically container limitations and associated financial obligations contained within the Port Commitment Deeds.
Second, it recommended that the NSW Government conduct a detailed investigation of freight rail options between Ports Botany, Newcastle and Kembla, including options for line duplication and dedicated freight-line construction.
This investigation would be to ensure strategic future corridors are preserved, to optimise rail modal share of freight transport, to better align capacity to meet future demand and to improve the rail service reliability.
Finally, it called for a review of NSW’s ports policy, including the potential for a container terminal at the Port of Newcastle.
Read the full inquiry report here.