The state government is being asked to give farmers some Christmas cheer by fast-tracking work around the Port of Newcastle.
Earlier this month a bill that would enable the development of a container terminal at the Port of Newcastle passed the NSW Parliament, meaning farmers were closer than ever to substantial savings on freight costs.
NSW Farmers Modernising Rail Taskforce chair Matt Madden said the onus was on the state government to proceed with bureaucratic work to unlock that potential.
“By swiftly proceeding with the work around the Port of Newcastle, the state government could offer a little hope coming into Christmas after a particularly shocking year for farmers and rural communities,” Mr Madden said.
“We’ve seen one of the most expensive crops in history being hit by multiple natural disasters, and everyone could do with a bit of a cheer up.
“If they were to get cracking on unlocking the big freight savings the Port of Newcastle would offer, it would offer some hope for future prosperity.”
Mr Madden urged the government to prioritise the Port of Newcastle Bill for assent and to appoint the independent assessor before Christmas to get the process underway. He said it was important to get the ball rolling on developing new container freight capacity sooner than later, to maximise the opportunities for regions recovering for natural disasters.
“Giving growers the opportunity to send more containerised produce through the Port of Newcastle in a more efficient manner would save farmers between $16 and $22 per tonne, or up to $2.8 billion over the next 30 years, allowing them to reinvest in their businesses and drive even more economic activity in the regions,” Mr Madden said.
“This will save farmers money, grow the state economy, reduce strain on our roads, reduce truck emissions, and help the Hunter Valley in its eventual industrial transition away from coal mining.
“After all of these floods and damage this year, and with the Parliament having backed the bill, all that’s required is the will to deliver a fairly simple process that will in turn give farmers a long-awaited Christmas gift.”