“In 2011, Barry O’Farrell privatised Port Botany. In 2012, he privatised Port Kembla. In 2013, the Port of Newcastle should be on red alert,” Mr Robertson said on a visit to the Hunter today.
“Despite numerous opportunities to do so, Barry O’Farrell, Mike Baird and Greg Pearce have refused to rule put privatising Newcastle Port.
“This is a revenue-generating asset that belongs to the people of the Hunter.
“It should not be milked to pay for Sydney infrastructure projects.
“I can guarantee the people of the Hunter that a Robertson Labor Government will never sell off their Port.”
The Port of Newcastle is the world’s largest coal shipping terminal, handling more than 100 million tonnes each year. In 2011-12, the Port of Newcastle generated $42 million towards State Government revenue. This is forecast to rise to $70 million by 2015-16.
"When the O’Farrell Government sold off Port Kembla, it offered an insulting $100 million bribe to the people of the Illawarra while depriving them of an annual $50 million revenue stream in perpetuity,” Mr Robertson said.
“Barry O’Farrell has no mandate to privatise ports – but the worrying thing is that’s never stopped him in the past.”
Shadow Minister for Ports Ron Hoenig said: "While ever Barry O’Farrell refuses to rule out privatising Newcastle Port, the jobs of more than 2000 workers are at risk.”
"Putting a private owner in charge of monopoly infrastructure will inevitably lead to higher port charges and shipping costs for exporters and importers. That’s the last thing the Hunter resources industry needs.”
Member for Cessnock Clayton Barr said: “The contribution of Newcastle Port to State revenue grows each year – and doubles roughly every 10 years. If the Port is privatised, the O’Farrell Government would be walking away from potentially tens of billions of dollars in return for a one-off cash grab.”
“What a waste for our State.”
Member for Wallsend Sonia Hornery said: "I continue to campaign against the sell off.”
“Recently, I put up a motion against the privatisation of Newcastle Port in Parliament which the Liberal members for Newcastle, Charlestown and Maitland all voted down and refused to debate – surely the biggest indication the sale is on.
"The Port is this region’s economic heart and soul. Unlike Coalition Hunter MPs, I will not sit idly by and see public assets taken from the community."
Councillor Tim Crakanthorp said: "Privatising Newcastle Port would be the ultimate example of money generated in the Hunter being sucked down to Sydney to the detriment of our region.”
WHAT THE O’FARRELL GOVERNMENT SAID BEFORE PRIVATISING PORT KEMBLA
· ‘‘The NSW Government has no plans to privatise Port Kembla Port Corporation.’’ Gareth Ward, Illawarra Mercury 13 July 2011
· "I have no plans to privatise New South Wales ports." Duncan Gay, Hansard, 4 August 2011
· "This is just more fear and smear [from Labor]." Andrew Stoner, Illawarra Mercury, February 2, 2011