Approval has been granted for the first in a series of state government asset sales, with legislation to sell Market City passing parliament after a debate that went until almost dawn.The legislation was passed without amendment, despite the sitting lasting beyond 4am, in what was the final session of the Legislative Council for the year.Operated by the Perth Market Authority, Market City is the state’s central wholesale hub for fruit and vegetable trade, used by farmers and retailers.It has a turnover of around $500 million annually and more than 200,000 tonnes of produce are sold through its operations.The government is considering detailed proposals for the site, which is around 50 hectares, from a number of shortlisted bidders, which include an industry group led by grower cooperative the Chamber of Fruit and Vegetable Industries in WA.Other bidders included Kerry Stokes' Australian Capital Equity.Treasurer Mike Nahan said the sale would improve productivity and efficiency in the operations of the centre."The long-term sustainability of the wholesale market is central to the sale of Market City," he said."The sale will help stimulate a significant increase in much-needed capital investment."The passage of this bill marks a key milestone in the sales process, and enshrines in legislation the key elements necessary for the continued operation of the wholesale market.” Dr Nahan said he was confident there were suitable safeguards in the legislation to ensure minimal impact on tenants.The sale forms part of the first tranche of a major asset recycling program unveiled last year, while a second tranche of the program was released in this year’s budget.The state government is hoping to net up to $5 billion from the sales, with the released capital to be used for new infrastructure projects such as the Perth Freight Link and Airport Rail Line.
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