Goyder backs port plan

01/04/2016 - 12:28

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Wesfarmers chief executive Richard Goyder has thrown his support behind the state government’s plan to lease Fremantle Ports, saying the state needs a world-class operator to ensure exports are competitive internationally.

Wesfarmers chief executive Richard Goyder.

Wesfarmers chief executive Richard Goyder has thrown his support behind the state government’s plan to lease Fremantle Ports, saying the state needs a world-class operator to ensure exports are competitive internationally.

It follows the recent announcement by the National Party that it will block the sale legislation in the state Legislative Council over transparency concerns.

Speaking at an AgConnect function last night, Mr Goyder said he had no issues with the efficiency of the port as it was, but that there were opportunities in the long term.

“I’m a free-market person so I would support the privatisation of a port on the basis that it will be properly invested in and become more efficient over time,” Mr Goyder told the function.

“I don’t know why the port needs to be in government hands.

“And the government needs the money at the moment.” 

The state government has previously flagged income raised from the port sale would go towards infrastructure projects such as the Forrestfield-Airport rail line.

More recently it has pledged to erect a purpose-built live export terminal.

Mr Goyder said whoever owned the port would need to be capable of being world class.

“I would assume that the government would have some requirements if they sell the port, and you actually want a world class operator to come in,” he said.

“If we’re going to get our products out of WA to the near north efficiently then we want really good ports.

“We want really good access ports, we want really efficient operations on the port."

Mr Goyder said the government did have a role in supporting telecommunications in rural areas, however, because a pure market would not provide the same level of service as in metropolitan areas.

Foreign ownership

Mr Goyder additionally said the the agricultural industry should welcome foreign investment with open arms.

He said his dad had sold his farm after decades of hard work and would be very disappointed if he had been unable to do so to the highest bidder.

However, Mr Goyder said he was comfortable with the idea of a register of ownership interests.

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