18/05/2016 - 14:49

Freo port sale bill introduced

18/05/2016 - 14:49

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Nationals leader Terry Redman says the party remains opposed to the sale of Fremantle Ports, despite supporting treasurer Mike Nahan's introduction today of a bill to enable a lease of up to 99 years to proceed.

Freo port sale bill introduced
Fremantle Ports would be sold for a 99-year lease.

Nationals leader Terry Redman says the party remains opposed to the sale of Fremantle Ports, despite supporting treasurer Mike Nahan's introduction today of a bill to enable a lease of up to 99 years to proceed.

Mr Redman said the Nationals had supported convention by allowing a reading of the bill, although the party still intended not to support the legislation through parliament.

See also: Efficiency lost if port sale founders

That move caused some confusion, however, with Labor leader Mark McGowan accusing the Nationals of a backflip.

“They had an opportunity to support Labor’s attempt to block the legislation but failed miserably,” Mr McGowan said.

“This just highlights how weak the Nationals are in government.

“They are all talk and no action.

“One day they claim they don’t support the sale, the next day they do.”

To secure the passage of the legislation through parliament, the government would need to rely on support from all Liberal Party members of the Legislative Council and then at least two votes from other parties, which could include the Nationals, Greens, Labor, or the Shooters & Fishers.

With Labor opposing a sale, opposition from the Nationals would likely kill the bill, and in so doing end the government’s plan to use the projected $2 billion proceeds to pay down debt and build a new special-purpose live export facility.

Treasurer Mike Nahan embarked on a regional sales pitch to whip up support for the sale last month, arguing that grain growers would be no worse off under the deal.

Other benefits would be a fund for building a new outer harbour and a private sector redevelopment of the passenger terminal, he said.

The government said key elements of the future access and pricing regime were now set out in the legislation, which had previously been of concern to the Nationals.

It now includes a number of protections designed to ensure continued fair access and mitigate the risk of potential abuse of market power and unfair pricing, the governemnt said.

Dr Nahan said the government was committed to the continuation of the inner harbour at Fremantle for the long term.

“Analysis of capacity and trade growth has confirmed the outer harbour, which would be additional to the inner harbour operations, will not be required for at least 15 years and probably much longer,” he said.  

“Allowing the inner harbour to reach its natural capacity means port prices will remain lower for all users, with the benefits passed on to the community.

“Importantly, this creates the framework for the outer harbour development to be undertaken by the new lessee of Fremantle Ports as and when the expanded capacity is required.  

“Should the new lessee choose not to take up the development opportunity, the government may elect for this to be undertaken by another party.”

That follows a recent opinion piece by Transport Minister Dean Nalder pinning the capacity of the inner harbour at 2 million 20-foot equivalent units per annum, more than double the current level of 780,000 teu.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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