1: Port of Newcastle (Extinguishment of Liability) Bill 2022

8th November 2022

Mr GREG PIPER: After listening to the contribution of members most would agree that the sale of the ports in 2013 and 2014 was a mistake. It was a mistake then and it is a mistake now. This is an opportunity to make it right. A lot of the debate has been about the owners of the ports. I recognise members of the Port of Newcastle in the Chamber today—chief executive officer Craig Carmody, Tanya McDonald, Lucas Coleman, Steve Crowe and others. With all due respect, I am not particularly interested in them. Everybody would understand that. It is not about the Port of Newcastle; it is about the people of New South Wales and the opportunities that can be brought to them and to our farmers, who are also here today. I welcome NSW Farmers to the gallery to listen to the debate.

I acknowledge the farmers, the large agribusinesses that work off the farm production and also the manufacturers. We are here to talk about them today. There have certainly been some interesting contributions. I was not sure that my friends in the Opposition would support the bill, but I thank the member for Summer Hill for sticking in there. I acknowledge the members representing the electorates of Ku-ring-gai, Summer Hill, Northern Tablelands, Sydney, Upper Hunter, Swansea, Maitland, Wyong, Port Stephens, Wallsend, Newcastle, Wollongong, Charlestown, Keira, Balmain, Shellharbour, Prospect, Heffron and Maroubra. All members spoke passionately about this matter, as they should.

There is concern about the unknown cost to the taxpayers of New South Wales. It is my understanding that in 2014 the Port of Newcastle paid a lesser amount because of the restriction on it, as opposed to the premium that NSW Ports paid for the restriction that was put on the Port of Newcastle. The proposed process in the Government's amendments will go a long way towards addressing the concerns of the Opposition. An independent arbiter—an expert—will come in to weigh and measure the differential that was there. That will be paid to the New South Wales Government. Where that will be parked and how that will be dealt with is up to the Government. We cannot discount and dismiss as insignificant the $6.8 billion that was taken from the ports in the sale of those assets and has been applied to a range of goods for the people of New South Wales over that time.

While debating the ports and the opportunities for them, a churn of business activity will be generated. The member for Northern Tablelands spoke about the efficiencies that would be generated for people in his electorate. The member for Upper Hunter spoke about broadacre farmers who will have much more efficient and cheap access to an export market for their produce. Manufacturers will also come to the area because they can rely on good access to the best deepwater port on the eastern seaboard of Australia. There are many good reasons to unpick this. I believe that the Government will manage this correctly. I thank the Treasurer, Matt Kean, who cannot be here today. The Treasurer and his deputy chief of staff worked well with us to reach a solution. I believe that the bill in its current form is worthy of the support of the House. I thank the Government for the amendments, and I commend the bill to the House.

Website: Read full Parliamentary debate here

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