Bay West will waste time and money: maritime expert

MTI boss Galbraith presents the case against alternative to Hastings as Melbourne’s second container port

Bay West will waste time and money: maritime expert
Sandy Galbraith believes speed is needed on Hastings port


Melbourne port risks going the way of London’s, New York’s and Amsterdam’s if it fails to adjust in time to container shipping trends, a maritime industries expert warns.

With fewer but bigger container shipping lines looking at focusing calls of larger ships to one hub port per southern hemisphere country, avoidable delay will leave Melbourne exposed to developments, Maritime Trade Intelligence (MTI) managing director and industry consultant Sandy Galbraith has told a lobbying organisation gathering.

In the latest addition to the second port debate in the city, Galbraith uses the three cities as examples of where changing shipping industry needs led to irreversible declines of major ports and notes the trend is already underway in New Zealand, Africa and South America.

While acknowledging the Hastings option has its own issues, he is no fan of the ALP-supported Bay West concept, saying it was "never envisaged as a container port".

"At least five years ago, I was involved in early discussions on the concept and can reveal that it was conceived as a replacement port for Geelong, not Melbourne, and was to be located at Point Wilson at the mouth of Corio Bay, very close to the existing Geelong shipping channel," he says.

Bay West would need dredging of 66-84 million cubic metres of sand and rock or 3-4 times that of the channel deepening project of 2008-09, which came in at nearly $1 billion.

It will likely need more work done on the Port Phillip Heads channel and this could conceivably result in a 15cm rise in water levels within the Port Phillip Bay.

Galbraith’s comments come as ALP ports spokeswoman Natalie Hutchins says a Labor government would undertake "a comprehensive and transparent cost benefit analysis … to test how Bay West stands up against other possible sites, including Hastings".

"Residents of Melbourne’s south east are rightly concerned about the prospect of freight trains running frequently through our suburbs and upwards of 20,000 additional trucks on our local roads," Hutchins says.

"Hastings requires substantial investment in road and rail funding to get goods in and out, and without that additional investment the Nepean Highway and Dandenong Rail corridor will be flooded with trucks and trains 24 hours a day."

Rather than set Infrastructure Victoria to a drawn-out task of examining Bay West when speed is crucial, Galbraith urges the ALP, if it wins office in this year’s election, to accelerate the Hastings option.

"There is an urgency here that I don’t think government yet realises," he says.

"In terms of retaining direct international calls from some container trades – notably, the key one, North Asia – it may already be too late."

On rail, he points to the advantages of shipping to take any burden that rail freight is unable to shoulder.

This would be through a container shuttle shipping service to Melbourne, as occurs successfully elsewhere in the world.

"These vessels would provide the economies of scale to, on a single voyage, take the equivalent of many, many trainloads of containers," he adds.

"And let’s not ignore the fact that ships represent an environmentally better solution that will neither impact on your sleep nor your ability to catch the train on time to work in the morning."  


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