Port, Ergon won’t sting customers
Reassurance on debt shift
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