The Ports Assets Bill  to facilitate the ‘sale’ of Port Botany, Port Kembla, Enfield Intermodal, and Cooks River Terminal  passed the NSW Lower House last week.  It was scheduled for debate in the Upper House this week but was postponed because of problems with the Shooters and Fishers Party  and won’t re-appear until November 13th at the earliest.  Consultation on this Bill has been almost non-existent.  Community are complaining, current leaseholders are complaining and so too Freight and Logistics operators.

There was no consultation on the lifting of the CAP of 3.2 million TEU even though this was a Condition of Consent(see A1.4)  under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EPAA)signed off by the then Minister for Planning in 2005.  Sydney Ports was required to undertake an Environmental Assessment before the CAP could be removed but although there has been ample time to do this – the sale was announced in September 2011 – nothing happened.  So instead the EPAA has been voided in this Bill.  How can the public have confidence in Minister  Hazzard’s  new Planning regime if the Government is dismissive of legal obligations under the EPAA.

Molineux Tourist Lookout and the Heritage listed Banks Wall, and Prince of Wales Tourist Drive – the final leg of Randwick’s Coastal Walk and the first leg of the Botany Bay Trail are included in the sale.  This is public space used by a range of people from international visitors to local fishers and it  doesn’t make sense that a prospective buyer of the ’99 year lease’ of Port Botany would want to take on such a liability.  Port Kembla was added to the ‘sale package’ to make Botany more attractive so why would the NSW Treasurer include a public space – Molineux Lookout and Prince of Wales Drive – which if open to the public including fishers will be  an area that produces no return but requires maintenance.  It doesn’t make sense unless in the longer term the public get shut out.

Normally public recreation occurs on public land. 

What exactly is Treasurer Mike Bird up to.  If this was part of the Manly to Spit walk in his own electorate alienation of public space would not be tolerated by his constituents.

But it is not only the locals who are concerned about the way this sale is being handled.  The Coordinator of Infrastructure Australia, Michael Deegan, warned in March that it would be a mistake to rush this.   AND he cautioned that Planning for the port’s and airport’s future requires consultation with all stakeholders, including the freight sector and local residents.  This  is exactly what the Treasurer has not done.   Despite requests to do so in 2011 the first briefing was provided in August 2012 at a Ports Neighbourhood Committee Meeting when members were told what the government intended.  NO DISCUSSION we were simply told what the government intended to do.

The following extracts are from National Infrastructure Coordinator – Report to Minister for Infrastructure and Transport on Private Financing Options for Upgrades in Sydney’s M5 and F3-M2 Corridors – March 2012  (1.57MB)  This Report was produced at the Minister’s request by Mr Michael Deegan, National Infrastructure Coordinator  (and a former head of NSW Transport)

Michael Deegan notes:

d) The absence of a long term plan for Port Botany and Kingsford Smith Airport (especially their supporting landside transport network) is a manifest weakness in the city’s and the nation’s infrastructure planning. Planning for landside transport to these key gateways is fragmented between governments and their agencies, lacks ambition, and lacks effective commitment to deliver on agreed plans. Planning for the port’s and airport’s future requires consultation with all stakeholders, including the freight sector and local residents.

and:

m) Concluding a long-term lease by mid 2013, particularly one that has some prospect of maximising proceeds for government, will require a range of decisions with major strategic implications – including decisions on the M5, Moorebank freight terminal and any lifting of the  ‘cap’ on throughput at Port Botany – to be taken by mid 2012. The rigorous and comprehensive planning exercise proposed by the NSW Government and recommended below is unlikely to be completed in that timeframe.

n) Although the leasing process has been initiated by the NSW Government, the national significance of Port Botany (and the fact that the NSW Government has been looking to the Australian Government to provide funding for the M5 East) suggest that the Australian Government needs to be engaged with the leasing process.

THIS AMENDMENT HAS BEEN PUT FORWARD TO KEEP MOLINEUX IN PUBLIC HANDS

Note that container growth is 10 times that of projected population growth over the coming two decades:

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