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Victorian Opposition to make Port of Melbourne critical infrastructure

The Victorian Liberals want to pass a bill that will make the Port of Melbourne a piece of critical infrastructure, opening the door to the Victorian Critical Infrastructure Register

The Victorian Liberal party has introduced a private members’ bill that will designate the Port of Melbourne as a piece of critical infrastructure.

Introduced by shadow ports and freight minister Roma Britnell, the Emergency Management Amendment (Port of Melbourne) Bill 2024 seeks to amend the Emergency Management Act 2013 to define the Port of Melbourne as critical infrastructure and mandate its inclusion in the Victorian Critical Infrastructure Register.

Inclusion in the Register, currently at the discretion of the ports and freight minister, activates robust emergency management obligations, including requiring the completion of a statement of assurance, emergency risk management planning, an emergency management exercise and an audit.

The Liberal party says recent events such as cyber-attacks, protests and industrial action caused significant disruption to goods getting to families and demonstrates the vital importance of robust emergency management and security arrangements for the Port.

The party says the significant backlog of containers affecting trade resulted in a cost to the Victorian economy estimated at $84 million per week, with further activity relating to activists at the port leading to ongoing disruptions and delays.

“The Port of Melbourne’s ongoing security and stable operation is essential to the continued growth and prosperity of Victoria and Australia,” Britnell says.

“While Treasurer Tim Pallas describes the disruptions and protests as a “minor inconvenience”, Victorians are paying the price through higher costs to critical goods.

“Victoria is facing a cost-of-living crisis and the port’s treatment as critical infrastructure under the Act should not be at the discretion of the responsible minister. This bill will designate the port as critical infrastructure and should be supported by the state government.

Victoria International Container Terminal CEO Bruno Porchietto says the Port plays “a vital role in the Victorian economy, handling more than one-third of Australia’s container trade and contributing over $11 billion in economic activity”.

“Ongoing delays flow through to consumers as higher prices, so it is vital that the port is designated as critical infrastructure to reduce disruptions and cost pressures,” Porchietto says.

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