Question Time: Port of Newcastle

11th October 2022

Mr GREG PIPER (Lake Macquarie) (14:51): I direct my question to the Premier. Given the ACCC has described the privatisation deals on the State's ports as "inherently anti-competitive" and the Productivity Commission has identified inefficiencies at the ports, will the Government now remove the restrictions on Newcastle's ability to develop a container port?

The SPEAKER: Order! I call the member for Maroubra to order for the first time.

Mr DOMINIC PERROTTET (EppingPremier) (14:52): I thank the member for Lake Macquarie for his question and interest on this issue. He is a strong advocate for his local community and I appreciate the concerns that he raised in the question. I make the point that this is part of the ports strategy. I understand that, as the member for Lake Macquarie would be aware, the matter is before the courts and it would be inappropriate for me to prejudice that case. I also note that the good member for Lake Macquarie has given notice to introduce a bill on this matter, which he has spoken to me personally about.

Like all private members' bills, particularly those from the member for Lake Macquarie, the Government will consider it carefully. We developed our ports strategy to reduce the cost of moving containers for the industry, consumers and taxpayers. As the member for Lake Macquarie knows all too well, that is on the back of a significant investment that we made in the Hunter region as a result of asset recycling, which was opposed by members opposite. Anything that is hard, they oppose; anything that is right, we deliver.

Ms Kate Washington: What about Upper Hunter?

Mr DOMINIC PERROTTET: Yes, $835 million for the John Hunter Health and Innovation Precinct, which the Minister for Health knows all too well; $470 million for Maitland Hospital, which we do not hear much about from the member for Maitland; $318 million—

Ms Jenny Aitchison: After they heard about the lack of staff.

Mr DOMINIC PERROTTET: They love Maitland Hospital.

Ms Jenny Aitchison: The one in four people who had to leave before they could be seen by the emergency department?

Mr DOMINIC PERROTTET: What did Labor do for Maitland? Nothing!

Mrs Melinda Pavey: What did they do? Nothing! Nothing!

Mr DOMINIC PERROTTET: Such a shame. Over the next four years the Government will provide $318.6 million for the Newcastle Inner City Bypass; $156 million for the next four years for planning for Nelson Bay Road improvements; $100 million for the Greater Sydney Regional Sport Facility Fund; a $56 million upgrade for the Newcastle Mater Hospital; the establishment of the Hunter Infrastructure and Investment Fund; upgrades to Newcastle East Public School; and $3 billion on NorthConnex—opposed by Labor, by the way.

The SPEAKER: I call the member for Port Stephens to order for the first time.

Mr DOMINIC PERROTTET: How good is NorthConnex? Labor opposed it—everyone loves it. Now we can get up to the electorate of the member for Lake Macquarie faster with NorthConnex. So, I say to the member that the simple answer to his question is: I appreciate you're introducing a bill to Parliament. You have given notice to do that. We will consider it. I appreciate your concerns and let's continue to have the discussion.

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