ALC Forum opens with a punch

Victorian Minister for Ports elect Denis Napthine today opened the 2011 ALC Annual Forum with a pledge to revoke port merger plans

ALC Forum opens with a punch
ALC Forum opened with a punch

By Anna Game-Lopata | February 21, 2011

Victorian Minister for Ports elect Denis Napthine today opened the 2011 Australian Logistics Council (ALC) Annual Forum in Melbourne with a powerful pledge to revoke the previous government's plans to merge the ports of Hastings and Melbourne.

The Minister also re-iterated
the Coalition plan to relocate Victoria’s vehicle import/export business to the Port of Geelong.

Napthine told the industry his government’s aim is to grow Victoria’s regional economy and to reduce congestion at the Port of Melbourne.

The Minister pointed to the prediction that container throughput is expected to quadruple by 2035 as a key reason for the Baillieu government’s intention to breathe new life into the key regional ports of Hastings, Geelong and Portland.

"The Port of Melbourne, Australia’s largest container port is predicted to be handling 7-8 million tonnes of containers by 2035," Napthine says.

Napthine says the government intends to introduce legislation early this year to revoke plans to merge the Port of Melbourne and Hastings and to establish an independent port authority.

"The Coalition never supported the previous government’s legislation which had the Port of Hastings subsumed by the Port of Melbourne," Napthine says.

"The role of the authority will be to chart a course for the expansion and development of port facilities and the development of a competitive commercial container port at Hastings.

"The authority will initially be tasked with conducting social and environmental impact studies as well as examining logistics options for this new container port," the Minister says.

"This is a medium to long term project.

"The Coalition firmly believes in the potential of all four Victorian Ports to play a key role in promoting the prosperity of the state."

Together the Ports of Geelong, Portland and Hastings handle 99 percent of international trade by volume and 90 percent by value.

Adding coastal trade, these ports represent over 90 million TEUs of cargo valued at over $100 billion, carried 4.5 thousand ships.


The Baillieu government is also in the process of developing a feasibility study into the relocation of the vehicle import/export business from Melbourne Port to the Port of Geelong.

Currently the port of Geelong carries much of Victoria’s bulk trade including woodchips grain and petroleum products.

Napthine told the ALC Forum that while a decision is yet to be made, the strategy to add the vehicle import/export business would bring $200 million new revenue to the local economy along with up to one thousand jobs.

"It will also significantly contribute to the reduction of congestion at the Port of Melbourne," he says.

This month, the government will begin a proper feasibility study in seven key areas including technical, infrastructure capacity requirements, land transport options, financing, competition and regulatory issues, supply chain impacts and strategic implications.

"The feasibility will include the depth and maintenance of shipping channels as well as transport links to the port of Geelong," the Minister says.

The resulting discussion paper will be released by the middle of the year, with a further round of consultation to follow.

Napthine says a final paper will be presented to cabinet by the end of the year.

In the last financial year there were 375,000 new vehicles carried on 320 vessels through the port of Melbourne.

Included in this were exports of 125,000 vehicles built in Victoria valued at $1.7 billion.

"We have committed to a detailed consultation process, and no decision will be made until all stakeholders have had an input," Napthine says.

"The feasibility study will be a sounding board for industry so that the end result will be to provide efficiency and certainty for the vehicle import/ export industry."


The minister also took the opportunity to launch significant new report into container movements in Victoria.

A detailed
analysis of the way containers move in Victoria, the Origin Container Report it is the most comprehensive ever conducted, tracking 75,000 container movements through the Port of Melbourne and the Dynon Rail Yards.

Salient findings include:

87 percent of containers imported to the Port of Melbourne are destined for locations in the metropolitan region

71 percent imports stay overnight at a transport depot, making their journey to customers in two hops

26 percent of containers exported originated in the outer suburbs of Melbourne

96 percent of inbound rail containers to the Dynon Rail yards were destined for a location within Melbourne

"This information is vital as the government looks at transport and logistics policies," the minister says.

"It shows how important it is to get landside logistics right in terms of moving containers around Melbourne."

Denis Napthine says he welcomes Commonwealth involvement in national port strategy to assist states in the hard work of improving productivity and reducing bottlenecks.

"We would welcome the Commonwealth’s funding assistance to improve road and rail infrastructure within the framework of our ‘green triangle’ freight action plan to facilitate the movement of woodchips, mineral sands and grains to the port of Portland," he says.

"We would also welcome funding assistance for environmental assessment as we develop our significant Port at Hastings and to provide road and rail infrastructure that prevents gridlocks and landside inefficiencies at the Port of Melbourne.

"I urge the Commonwealth to become as partner by putting funds on the table to assist states to tackle bottlenecks and efficiencies.

"We don’t want them to pontificate or be a commentator, but to become a genuine partner and work with us in a constructive way to increase port efficiencies."

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