Author: By IAN KIRKWOOD
FORMER BHP Newcastle executive Greg Cameron says the Coalition state government has abandoned the Hunter Region by deciding to expand Port Botany and Port Kembla instead of promoting a container terminal on the former steelworks site.
And instead of suggesting the steelworks site for a naval base, Mr Cameron believes the naval ships should go to Port Botany, allowing Newcastle to be set up as a full-scale container port.
Mr Cameron – who was involved in the original 1990s BHP plans to put a container terminal on the Hunter River site – says Hunter community leaders need to speak out with one voice about the betrayal of the region.
Although the state-owned Newcastle Port Corporation was recently given government approval for a plan to convert 90 hectares of the Mayfield site into a cargo-handling facility, containers will not play a major part.
The project could take 40 years or more to reach its final shape, which Mr Cameron says wastes the most important vacant deep waterfront industrial site on the east coast.
Responding to a report in Saturday’s Herald about the future of the steelworks site, Mr Cameron said a Mayfield container terminal would not only benefit the Hunter region, it would ease the already troubling road gridlock around Port Botany.
He said the government was banking on a tripling of trade to 7 million containers a year by 2035, and was abolishing Botany’s legal limit of 3.2 million containers a year to handle most of the growth.
About 80 per cent of containers left Port Botany by road, and the M5 motorway was already heavily congested during peak hours.
He said the Botany expansion depended on a new “intermodal terminal” or freight handling facility being planned by the federal government for Moorebank, near Liverpool, in Sydney’s west.
The government was setting aside $559 million to move the existing school of military engineering from the site.
H Future of port site