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Port beats urban challenges

ENCROACHING urban development and battles with heritage groups have formed a backdrop of a challenging year for the Fremantle Port Authority.

WA’s main general cargo port recorded an after tax profit of $8.7 million last financial year, marginally better than $8.4 million recorded the previous year.

But Fremantle Port Authority chief executive officer Kerry Sanderson described the 1999-2000 performance as “better than expected.”

Ms Sanderson said consistent trade growth and cutbacks in expenditure had offset the revenue downturn from a 9.4 per cent reduction in ship visits.

She said she was confident of sustained trade growth this year due to expected improvement of the local economy and those of Asian and European trading partners.

Urban encroachment issues would continue to present challenges as some nearby residents complained about the noise, smell or risk and the 24 hour nature of port activities.

“Planning issues will continue to present one of our greatest challenges, particularly as we strive to ensure adequate rail and road access into the port to cater for our growth for the next 30 years and beyond,” Mrs Sanderson said.

“We’ve also initiated a buffer definition study to ensure the port is protected from an excess of urban encroachment which could affect port efficiency.”

The FPA paid $5.9 million in income tax and returned a dividend to the State Government of $1.75 million.

A rate of return on assets of 8.7 per cent was above the targeted six per cent.

The FPA slashed a further $7.4 million – adding up to a reduction of $51 million over six years – from its debt which now sits at $17.6 million.

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