Port Hits Back at Container Terminal Court Ruling

Judge Jayne Jagot doesn’t believe a container terminal would be viable for Newcastle. Image: MaxPixel

Port of Newcastle CEO Craig Carmody has criticised comments from a Federal Court judge who labeled plans for a local container terminal “fanciful” and “far-fetched”.

“Any suggestion that Port of Newcastle wouldn’t proceed to build the container terminal if the restrictions were lifted are baseless and misleading,” Mr Carmody said.

“Port of Newcastle maintains its real-world view that a container terminal is entirely viable – and necessary – at the Port.”

It comes after Justice Jayne Jagot published her written judgement on the ACCC’s case against NSW Ports, in which the consumer watchdog tried to argue privatisation deals between the state government and Port Botany and Port Kembla were anti-competitive and illegal.

If a container terminal was built in Newcastle under the terms of the deals, Port of Newcastle would be forced to financially compensate NSW Ports when a cap on local container movements is exceeded.

The move would effectively double the cost of container movements for Newcastle.

Justice Jagot said it wouldn’t be viable for the Port of Newcastle to operate a container terminal regardless of the container cap, but Craig Carmody disagrees.

“The judgment clearly accepts that Port of Newcastle has the ability to compete in the same market as Port Botany,” he said.

“The only factor preventing the Port from building the container terminal is the unfair restrictions placed on container movement above a TEU cap at the Port of Newcastle.”

Mr Carmody says the Port is waiting with interest to see whether the ACCC appeals the Court ruling by the deadline on Tuesday.