SCAN takes swipe at Hastings option

Supply chain expert group casts doubt on wisdom of planned Westernport Bay development

SCAN takes swipe at Hastings option
Size of containerships calling at Melbourne might not grow hugely


A Victorian logistics focus group has given heat to debate on the suitability of the Port of Hastings as Melbourne’s replacement port.

Hastings, on Westernport Bay, has been recognised as the best option by this and the previous governments due largely to its deep draught, though Labor in opposition has pushed the Bay West option inside Port Philip Bay recently, despite its issues relating to a huge dredging task and the narrow bay entrance.

Now the Supply Chain Advisory Network (SCAN), a body logistics and supply chain practitioners from the former Victorian Freight and Logistics Council’s Freight Efficiency Group, has questioned the wisdom of Hastings.

Chairperson Dr Hermione Parsons has raised three concerns about State Government’s "integrated port strategy" as related recently by Treasurer Michael O’Brien:

  • the future use of megaships and the need for a deeper water port 
  • the resolution of land-side logistics factors that determine whether or not importers and exporters can connect with global markets effectively and competitively
  • financing and constructing the multimodal freight transport infrastructure to service the existing and/or new port hinterland.

SCAN reprises some arguments already raised surrounding Hastings option weaknesses, particularly the port’s relative remoteness from growth areas and absence of the sort of existing intermodal linkages that make the Port of Melbourne so effective.

To that it adds a counter-argument to the assumptions in the coalition’s Victorian Freight and Logistics Plan that container ships able to carry 16,000 teu (20-foot equivalent units) will be shifted from global shipping arteries to routes in the South Pacific.

There is no guarantee that demand will rise enough to see such ships used, even with a near doubling of the nation’s population by mid-century, it is argued.

SCAN also raises the needs of international traders and their supply chain operators for landside competitiveness.

"Importers and exporters throughout Melbourne, Victoria and south-eastern Australia and their logistics and transport service providers depend on reliable port access," Parsons argues.

"Approximately 5% of Melbourne’s freight task (net tonne kilometres) is international and passes through the Port of Melbourne, and therefore the vast majority of freight crossing the Westgate Bridge will probably continue to do so, according to its own domestic freight supply chain system of movements.

"The scale of Metropolitan Melbourne and the complex task of crossing it should therefore become the subject of an immediate and intensive infrastructure, services and financial planning program.

"The west and north-west of Melbourne are the fastest growing commercial areas in Australia, with freight logistics activity ideally located close to interstate road and rail networks, international airports, the international seaport, a potentially burgeoning workforce and consumer markets in Melbourne’s main growth corridors.

"It could be that a new international container port in Port Philip Bay with immediate connections to the existing road and rail networks could well satisfy the needs of Victoria’s established freight logistics industry well into the future, and the concept should be examined in any planning for future shipping services."



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