SPEECH - Liberals double-down on treachery as they move to sell off critical port access land
15 February 2022
The Liberals are no strangers when it comes to selling off our public assets. But the dodgy deal struck by the New South Wales Liberal government to sell off Botany, Kembla and Newcastle ports is utterly scandalous. Novocastrians haven't forgotten the Liberals' sneaky, dirty deal, which the ACCC has described as anticompetitive and illegal, to prevent the Port of Newcastle from ever developing a container terminal. This week, the New South Wales Liberals revealed that they're up to their old tricks again, trying desperately to shut down any chance of establishing a multipurpose deepwater terminal by calling for the sale of critical port access land at the former BHP steelworks. Make no mistake: this is a deliberate attempt by the New South Wales Liberals to ensure that the development of a container terminal at the port of Newcastle remains economically unviable. This is a concerted effort to block investment, entrench private monopolies and put a brake on regional development and employment in Newcastle.
I want our port and our city to have a strong economic future. I don't want our region to be left stranded without options, to be caught flat-footed as the global economy changes and as demands for innovation and new energy sources become more and more prevalent every day. The container terminal proposal will attract an estimated $1.8 billion of private investment, at no cost to the New South Wales government. That's what they're blocking. The project will generate more than 15,000 direct and indirect jobs, provide cheaper freight costs for importers and exporters across the state, reduce unnecessary road and rail movements in and out of Sydney, and add $1.3 billion to our regional economy and $2.5 billion to the national economy.
But the Liberals aren't interested in creating jobs or bolstering the Hunter's economy. They're more interested in protecting their own jobs while they sell us all out down the river. It's not enough for this Prime Minister to come to Newcastle and stand alongside the Port of Newcastle and announce a feasibility study for green hydrogen. He has to stand up to the New South Wales government. Any responsible government would encourage diversification and development of our port, not impose barriers that inhibit job creation and prosperity.
Today I call on the Prime Minister to intervene, to call out the despicable actions of the New South Wales Liberal government and to insist on a level playing field amongst New South Wales ports and access to container trade. Only then can the Port of Newcastle realise its full potential.