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Port of Newcastle extinguishes compensation payment

The ending of a container trade competition punishment payment means the Port of Newcastle can now focus on a “deliberately unfair” regulatory obstacle

The Port of Newcastle has confirmed it has made the one-off compensation payment required under the Port of Newcastle Extinguishment of Liability Act 2022 (NSW).

As of April 30 this year, the penalty payments no longer exist under the Port of Newcastle Port Commitment Deed, meaning the Port of Newcastle is no longer liable to reimburse the state for compensation payments owed to NSW Ports when the Port of Newcastle competes against Port Botany in container operations.

An extraordinary board meeting saw the Port of Newcastle vote in favour of paying the amount determined by IPART immediately to the NSW Treasury to allow it to compete in the container space.

Following 24 years of advocacy, the port’s stakeholders and community have been steadfast in their support of constructing and operating a container terminal in Newcastle, with Port of Newcastle CEO Craig Carmody saying the legislative process is now complete and the port can turn its attention to the NSW Freight Reform Program.

“The door was once closed on Newcastle operating a container terminal, but now, the legal and commercial restriction has been lifted, and we now turn our attention to removing the last regulatory and policy obstacle in the deliberately unfair NSW Freight & Ports Policy,” Carmody says.

“Then onto planning approvals, investment and construction. I must recognise the member for Lake Macquarie Greg Piper and the many supporters that stood behind us calling for change and a fair go – it truly was a movement beyond one organisation that has led to this moment.

“Transport for NSW recently released the Freight Policy Reform Consultation Paper, which states a guiding principle is that competition must be encouraged and well balanced.

“That is all Port of Newcastle has ever asked for – the opportunity to compete, and this policy reform must ensure a level playing field and stop trying to pick private company winners.”

Port of Newcastle board chair Professor Roy Green says the board’s pursuit of this outcome is a result of market demand.

“Agreement to pay the determination was met without hesitation,” Green says.

“Since Port of Newcastle was privatised in 2014, it became apparent the market in the port’s catchment did not want their own trade restricted – they wanted their product exported in the most efficient and cost-effective way.

“This was highlighted in the support we received during the legislative process. The Port of Newcastle Extinguishment of Liability Act became less about the Port of Newcastle and more about a collective group of organisations demanding change.

“While we eagerly await the outcome of the Freight Reform Program, Port of Newcastle will continue its planning for a container terminal, including continuing to grow container trade through the Port’s Multipurpose Terminal, which has current planning approval for 350,000 containers a year.”

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