Defiant PON response on container terminal

By: Rob McKay


Port of Newcastle boss says facility plans continue after judge casts doubt

Defiant PON response on container terminal
Craig Carmody

 

Operating firm Port of Newcastle (PON) will go ahead with its container terminal ambitions despite the reasoning in the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC’s) court loss against Ports NSW.

Federal Court judge Justice Jayne Jagot rejected the ACCC’s arguments that the New South Wales government and NSW Ports broke competition rules during the state’s privatisation process.

In doing so, Jagot was disparaging of PON’s intensions, citing a lack of preparation, and, as per state government policy, the port operating company had no choice but to wait for Port Botany and Port Kembla to reach capacity before going ahead.

PON, however, was unswayed.

"Any suggestion that Port of Newcastle wouldn’t proceed to build the container terminal if the restrictions were lifted are baseless and misleading," PON CEO Craig Carmody said.

"Port of Newcastle maintains its real-world view that a container terminal is entirely viable – and necessary – at the port.

"The judgment clearly accepts that Port of Newcastle has the ability to compete in the same market as Port Botany."

PON refused to accept Jagot’s premise that there was no actual reduction in competition due to the government’s container cap penalty or that it was a factor in PON planning.


Read about the judge’s reasoning in the case, here


"The only factor preventing the Port from building the container terminal is the unfair restrictions placed on container movement above a TEU cap at the Port of Newcastle," Carmody said.

"If there’s any doubt we’d build the container terminal, simply lift the penalty.

"Enable Port of Newcastle to maximise our commercial potential freely, and watch us build it.

"We know there is appetite and support for a container terminal in Newcastle from NSW and international suppliers.

"Development of another container terminal in NSW, even whilst Port Botany still has capacity, would provide viable alternative and more cost-effective export routes for regional NSW suppliers, increasing their competitiveness and enabling Port of Newcastle to contribute even more to the state’s economy.

"This legal decision does not alter Port of Newcastle’s desire to build a container terminal, nor our confidence that a container terminal at the Port is a diversification opportunity the Port, Newcastle and the Hunter Region needs.

"Port of Newcastle has the ability to compete in the same market as Port Botany, and that NSW state government policy is the major constraint to this."

"We await with interest the decision by the ACCC whether to appeal the Court outcome, expected next week."

This might indeed be the timing of the ACCC’s next move, with a spokesperson telling ATN is was not commenting "at this stage".

 

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