Port, Er­gon won’t sting cus­tomers

Re­as­sur­ance on debt shift

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - AN­THONY GAL­LOWAY gal­loway@ news. com. au

an­thony. ENERGY and Ports Min­is­ter Mark Bai­ley has in­sisted Port of Townsville and Er­gon Energy won’t be forced to charge cus­tomers more af­ter the State Gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to shift debt to the com­pa­nies.

Mr Bai­ley was in Townsville yesterday to of­fi­cially an­nounce a $ 55 mil­lion up­grade of Port of Townsville’s Berth 4 to cater for the ex­pected growth in con­tainer trade.

The Queens­land Gov­ern­ment’s Bud­get re­pair strat­egy hinges on trans­fer­ring about $ 4 bil­lion of gen­eral gov­ern­ment sec­tor debt back to its power and port com­pa­nies.

Mr Bai­ley said the mea­sure wouldn’t im­pact on the com­pa­nies’ abil­ity to op­er­ate com­mer­cially or raise cap­i­tal for fu­ture projects.

“The pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment was un­der- gear­ing gov­ern- ment as­sets like this port to sell it off,” he said.

“It’s nor­mal for big cor­po­ra­tions like this to have a level of debt. We’ll al­low them to regear but in a cau­tious way and at a level quite a bit lower than com­mer­cial rates.

“I think you can see our faith in this port: $ 55 mil­lion in the port and the Townsville econ­omy over three years.”

The up­grade of Berth 4, un­veiled in the State Bud­get two weeks ago, will in­clude a land­slide cargo han­dling area, and im­prove in­ter­modal trans­fer of cargo to both road and rail. The pro­ject will dou­ble the ca­pac­ity of the berth, al­low­ing an ad­di­tional two mil­lion tonnes of prod­uct per year.

The up­grade will cre­ate about 100 jobs dur­ing the con­struc­tion phase and al­low the port to ex­pand its con­tainer trade, com­ing on the back of Swire Ship­ping an­nounc­ing a new weekly ser­vice be­tween Townsville and Shang­hai.

Port chief ex­ec­u­tive Ra­nee Crosby said Townsville aimed to be a com­pet­i­tive con­tainer and gen­eral cargo port and the trans­port link for agri­cul­ture and re­sources com­modi­ties from north­ern Aus­tralia to Asian mar­kets.

“This latest in­vest­ment is part of a pro­gram of works that will put Townsville on the map to de­liver fre­quent and di­rect ser­vices to in­ter­na­tional mar­kets, pro­vid­ing our cus­tomers with re­li­able and ef­fi­cient in­fra­struc­ture,” she said.

It is an­tic­i­pated works will be­gin in early 2016.

The pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment was

un­der- gear­ing gov­ern­ment as­sets like this port to

sell it off ENERGY AND PORTS MIN­IS­TER MARK BAI­LEY

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