Author: By MICHELLE HARRIS
A CONSORTIUM behind a $600 million steelworks site redevelopment proposal says it still believes Newcastle can host a successful container terminal despite a cabinet decision to privatise Ports Kembla and Botany, which effectively kills off the idea.
Newcastle Port Corporation is understood to be seeking more information from the government about the implications of the privatisation move for its own plans.
The state cabinet agreed last week to lease for 99 years Port Botany and Wollongong’s Port Kembla, following the completion of a scoping study that was commissioned to determine the process and consider the financial implications.
Under the plans Port Kembla, not Newcastle as had been promised by the former Labor government, would handle the future overflow of containers from Port Botany after it was found to be a more cost-effective option.
Newcastle Stevedores and Anglo Ports were part of a consortium that had submitted to the former government a $600 million private-sector development proposal that would entail various uses for the Mayfield site, including a container terminal.
Anglo Ports chairman Captain Richard Setchell said yesterday he was awaiting advice from the government about the implications of the privatisation.
The need to diversify the Port of Newcastle was cited among the government’s reasons for rejecting early this year an unsolicited proposal from the Nathan Tinkler-owned Hunter Ports for a $2.5 billion coal-loader at the Mayfield site.
The container idea has been at the centre of Newcastle Port Corporation’s own plans for the site, which have been given draft approval by the NSW Planning Department.
However, the state’s ports strategy is expected to be overhauled to reflect Newcastle’s coal-dominated fate following the lease of the other ports.