Concern Raised Over Port of Melbourne Lease Bill

 

Member for Narracan Gary Blackwood has raised concerns over the Andrews Governments haste in attempting to lease the Port of Melbourne.

Speaking in Parliament on a Matter of Public Importance (MPI) Mr Blackwood said that the Government was attempting to block the Victorian Oppositions scrutiny of the Port of Melbourne Lease Transaction Bill 2015.

“It is interesting to hear the contributions of government members, and we can expect only the type of comments we have heard from them, given their inability to understand the issues involved with the bill that is behind the MPI, and it is that piece of legislation that the opposition is concerned with,” Mr Blackwood said.

“We have always been in favour of the lease of the port of Melbourne, as everybody understands, but it is the legislation that underpins the way that lease will be structured that we have real concerns about.

“It has been well publicised that the port of Melbourne will be at capacity by at least 2031 and probably even earlier, and it was for that reason that, when in government, we put much planning into the development of a second container port.

“The opposition would be letting Victorians down if we did not scrutinise the Delivering Victorian Infrastructure (Port of Melbourne Lease Transaction) Bill 2015. We would be letting them down if we did not look at the options available for a second container port and ensure that the government gave due consideration to those options.

Mr Blackwood said that the Port of Melbourne was too valuable an asset to Victorians and that the Andrews Government had presented one policy to the public during the election and a completely different proposal now in Government simply because their election promises need to be funded.

“Labor went to the 2014 state election committing to the construction of a second port, which was known as the Bay West option.

“The Bay West option would have required the blasting of the rocky Port Phillip Heads at the entry to the bay, causing damage to the many marine parks and worsening erosion of Victoria's most popular beaches due to increased water volume and wave activity.

“Labor's Bay West option now appears to be off the table altogether, as we all know, and not through mindful reconsideration of the values I just outlined but rather because the purchasers of the port of Melbourne will want a monopoly on our port to increase the potential earnings from the deal.

“Labor's motivation for rushing the deal through is that it is counting on a $7 billion sale price for the port to fund its grab-bag of election commitments, which failed to deliver any coherent vision for our great state.

“It is about Labor getting as much as it can in terms of dollars from the port of Melbourne lease to make sure it has the ability to deliver its 50 level crossing removals.

“Labor members have a history of condemning the coalition for using past privatisation to pay for debts accrued under its leadership, but now they are singing its virtues, showing just how threadbare their policy convictions truly are. 

Strong concerns have been raised regarding the deal Victorians will receive for the lease and that an anticompetitive clause would mean the development of a second Port could cost Victorians heavily if it was required under a future government.

This is a bad deal for Victoria. A monopoly control over our ports is anticompetitive and will result in higher importing and exporting prices associated with docking at the port. 

“Furthermore, it is anti-progress and fails to act on the need to build a second port to handle the increased demand for products in line with projected population growth. There are 100 000 people a year moving to Victoria, and that population growth will continue.

“On ports, the Andrews government is anti-environment, anti-competitive, anti-progress, anti-regions and anti-Victorian.

“It is a bad deal for Victoria proposed by a dysfunctional Labor government that was not and is still not ready to govern.


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