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18 Feb, 2011 04:00 AM
NEWCASTLE MP Jodi McKay accused forces within her government last night of undermining her efforts to secure a $600 million container terminal for Newcastle.
The claim follows the leaking of a confidential treasury briefing paper to the Newcastle Herald that questioned the project’s viability.
Ms McKay said the leak followed a conversation with Treasurer Eric Roozendaal on Wednesday morning in which she expressed concern about the delay in announcing the project’s successful proponent.
Mr Roozendaal sought last night to distance himself from the briefing document and confirmed that Newcastle would be the location of the state’s next container terminal.
Securing the Newcastle terminal, which would create hundreds of jobs over 15 to 30 years, is a key plank of Ms McKay’s re-election campaign.
The government was accused in 2007 of taking a car terminal favoured to be built at Newcastle to Wollongong in an effort to secure marginal seats.
Ms McKay said she believed similar forces were at play with the Newcastle container terminal proposal.
“There are forces within the government that want to sabotage the container terminal in Newcastle,” she said.
Ms McKay challenged the Treasurer to announce the successful tenderer for the container terminal proposal.
“There is nothing to stop the successful proponent from being announced,” she said.
“Given a 12-month expression of interest period was called, if Newcastle is going to be the location of the next container terminal it would be pertinent for the government to make that announcement shortly.”
The 22-page document titled Review of Proposed Uses of Mayfield and Intertrade Lands at Newcastle Port was prepared for Mr Roozendaal on February 4.
It states that Treasury had not been provided with a rigorous analysis of the demand forecast for containers and bulk goods.
“A 2006 PWC [Port Waratah Coal] study for bulk goods berth on the [Mayfield] site was based on the Newcastle Port Corporation-generated demand forecasts that were not subjected to critical analysis,” the report says.
“A 2003 study [updated in 2009] into container demand to Newcastle identified a total current demand of 266,000 TEU [20 tonne equivalent units] pa, which is dwarfed by the current and potential capacity of Port Botany.”
Anglo Ports and Newcastle Stevedores have expressed interest in operating a Newcastle container terminal. “There is an irrefutable business case for such a terminal,” Anglo Ports spokesman Richard Setchell said.