Industry welcomes Port of Melbourne lease legislation
While bidding deadlines have not yet been finalised, the sale process will start in the coming weeks
The Victorian Transport Association (VTA) and the Australian Logistics Council (ALC) have welcomed the Port of Melbourne lease legislation that was passed by the Victorian Parliament yesterday after months of tug-of-war between the Labor Government and the Opposition.
"A legislated outcome means more money for regional road and transport infrastructure through the $200 million agriculture infrastructure and jobs fund, which can be established as soon as the port is leased," VTA CEO Peter Anderson says.
"That fund will enable investment in vital infrastructure to help farmers and other primary producers get their goods to market faster and more efficiently, which is an important driver of economic growth in Victoria.
"With the legislation now passed, we urge the government to initiate its plans to lease the port so that a transaction can be concluded as soon as possible."
ALC MD Michael Kilgariff also commended the two sides "for coming to an agreement on the future of the Port of Melbourne, which is crucial to providing greater certainty to logistics businesses which interact with the port.
"The Port of Melbourne is a critical enabler of economic growth and I welcome the fact that the political wrangling over its future has now been resolved.
"An appropriately regulated port, supported by efficient road and rail links, is vital to sustaining the Victorian economy and achieving productivity improvements across the supply chain."
The Delivering Victorian Infrastructure (Port of Melbourne Lease Transaction) Bill 2015 passed the parliament with 34 votes to six.
The government says the deal will boost productivity, increase exports and reduce costs so that farmers, businesses and industries can stay competitive.
The lease proceeds, to be paid up front, will go into the Victorian Transport Fund (VTF).
The VTF aims to support the removal of 50 railway level-crossings around Melbourne and help build key transport infrastructure projects across regional Victoria.
"This is a great outcome for Victorians and a great result for its regions, with key transport initiatives across the state to provide a boost to the economy, which is good news for jobs," Victorian treasurer Tim Pallas says.
The lease is expected to boost the Victorian economy through improved efficiency and competitiveness in freight and logistics management.
Victoria’s independent economic regulator, the Essential Services Commission, will oversee enhanced pricing protections for port users.
"The export discount will also protect Victorian producers, manufacturers, other exporters and importers, and consumers," the government says.
While the bidding deadlines have not been finalised yet, Pallas says the sale process will start in the next few weeks.
The lease transaction’s joint financial advisers, Morgan Stanley and Flagstaff, will "soon" call for expressions of interest from the market on behalf of the government".
The port sale was initially expected to be finalised by March 2016, however, continued disagreements between the government and the opposition have delayed the sale by up to six months and the transaction is likely to take place towards the end of this year or early 2017.