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Politics delaying progress – Newcastle Herald


19 Feb, 2011 04:00 AM

Unions and business officials have hit out over claims that Newcastle’s bid for a container terminal was being sabotaged from within the Labor Party.

Maritime Union of Australia Newcastle secretary Jim Boyle said he was infuriated that behind-the-scenes in-fighting was holding back the Hunter’s economic development.

‘‘You just shake your head when you hear about what’s going on,’’ Mr Boyle said.

‘‘There are no winners when these things get political.

‘‘We want [the government] to come out with the recommendation because we are entitled to know what it is.’’

The Newcastle Herald reported yesterday that a leaked treasury document raised questions about the viability of a container terminal at the Mayfield site.

Newcastle MP Jodi McKay accused forces within her government of leaking the document to undermine her efforts to secure the container terminal.

‘‘There is a push for us to be coal port and only a coal port,’’ she said.

The Hunter Business Chamber president Brett Derwin said the development of a container terminal should not be about political outcomes but sound business principles.

‘‘The region has waited a long time and much energy and resources have been applied to bringing this to an outcome,’’ he said.

Ms McKay, who attended a meeting with Mayfield residents about the terminal yesterday, has challenged the Treasurer Eric Roozendaal to announce the successful proponent for the project.

Ms McKay’s political opponents seized the opportunity to attack the government yesterday after the party in-fighting.

“It seems this deal is not about the growth and development of Newcastle, it’s about Ms McKay’s political survival,” Liberal candidate for Newcastle Tim Owen said.

Independent John Tate said the public consultation should conclude before any announcement was made.

‘‘It was outrageous that a minister would be telling the Treasurer to make an announcement while consultation is still happening,’’ he said.

‘‘I’ve supported this for many years. What I want to see is the transport complementary to the size of the operation.’’

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