Victorian port reform defeated; Pallas hits out

Preliminary road and rail link planning for the Port of Hastings have been complicated after Opposition blocks reform bill

By Rob McKay | June 23, 2010

Preliminary road and rail link planning for the Port of Hastings have been complicated, at least in the short term, after action in the Victorian Parliament yesterday.

The Victorian government is looking at ways around last night’s Opposition blockage of its move to amalgamate the Port of Hastings with the Port of Melbourne.

The Liberals and the Greens combined in the state’s upper house to stymie amendments to the Transport Integration Act in a move that stung Roads and Ports Minister Tim Pallas.

He lashed the Liberals for not costing their pledge to fast-track Hastings and the Greens for leaving the Hastings port environment unprotected.

"This move by the Opposition will not only stunt the growth of the Port of Hastings but retain it as a commercial entity not protected by the strict environmental safeguards outlined in the Act," Pallas says.

The blockage should have come as no surprise to the Government, as opposition spokesman on ports Dennis Napthine signalled Liberal rejection of the government’s approach on May 26.

He says "the Port of Hastings will only grow at a snail’s pace over the next 20 to 30 years and the government will not even consider developing a container port at Hastings until at least 2035".

The Greens have a long-standing policy position against Port of Hastings expansion.

It has been a busy month for issues ultimately affecting traffic issues and road transport links with ports.

The Port of Geelong economic impact study was released at the weekend.

It showed that the port saw output worth $177.4m to the state land transport and storage sector, of which $82.6m was value-added.

The study also reinforced expectations that vehicle transport from Geelong will be a growth area, with 483 vehicles expected to need shifting in 2014-15, rising to 630 by 2029-30, all of which likely to be trucked.

Earlier in the month, the state government caused increased speculation and confusion over its port strategy after calling for a new round of consultation on container capacity "alternatives" to Webb Dock and Hastings.

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