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Port of Newcastle’s $13m payment opens door for large-scale container terminal

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Port of Newcastle (PoN) has made its one-off compensation payment to the state, opening the door to build a large-scale container terminal.

It comes after the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) ruled in April the corporation needed to recompense $13.1 million under the Port of Newcastle Extinguishment of Liability Act 2022 (NSW).

Following an extraordinary meeting, the PoN board voted in favour of paying the sum immediately on receipt of the invoice from NSW Treasury.

Now that the reimbursement is paid, Port of Newcastle will no longer be penalised by NSW Ports for competing against Port Botany.

After 24 years of advocacy, the organisation’s stakeholders and community have been steadfast in their support of constructing and operating a container terminal in Newcastle.

PoN CEO Craig Carmody said with the legislative process complete, it would turn its attention to the NSW Freight Reform Program.

“The door was once closed on Newcastle operating a container terminal,” he stated.

“[Today], the legal and commercial restriction has been lifted.

“So, we now turn our attention to removing the last regulatory/policy obstacle – the deliberately unfair NSW Freight & Ports Policy.

“Then planning approvals, investment and construction.

“But, first, I must recognise Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper and the many supporters that stood behind us calling for change and a fair go.

“It truly was a movement beyond one organisation that has led to this moment.

“Transport for NSW recently released the Freight Policy Reform Consultation Paper, which states a guiding principle is that competition must be encouraged and well balanced.

“That is all Port of Newcastle has ever asked for… the opportunity to compete.

“This policy reform must ensure a level playing field and stop trying to pick private company winners.”

Port of Newcastle’s board chair Professor Roy Green said PoN’s pursuit of this outcome was a result of the market demand.

“Agreement to pay the determination was met without hesitation,” he explained.

“Since PoN was privatised in 2014, it became apparent the market in the Port’s catchment did not want their own trade restricted.

“They wanted their product exported in the most efficient and cost-effective way.

“This was highlighted in the support we received during the legislative process.

“The Port of Newcastle Extinguishment of Liability Act 2022 (NSW) became less about the Port of Newcastle and more about a collective group of organisations demanding change.

“While we eagerly await the outcome of the Freight Reform Program, we’ll continue planning for a container terminal, including continuing to grow container trade through the Port’s Multipurpose Terminal, which has current planning approval for 350,000 containers a year.”

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