The Maritime Union of Australia has expressed concern today at news that the NSW State Government has decided in its 2011-12 budget to privatise Sydney's Port Botany.
MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said the decision to privatise Port Botany sent the wrong signal in the national debate about productivity.
“We’ve got a national debate running at the moment about productivity. Everyone in the industry knows that capital productivity is the key to future growth in our ports.
“But rather than ensure sustainable investment for public infrastructure, Mr O’Farrell will instead flog Port Botany off to the highest bidder, who will no doubt have their own profit motives in mind,” Mr Crumlin said.
“Mr O’Farrell is stripping public assets for short-term political gain rather than putting in place long term plans for increased capital productivity in the port which services Australia’s largest city.”
“Furthermore, Mr O’Farrell is selling public assets into a capital market which is currently experiencing severe decline.
“Amid the current global uncertainty, it’s doubtful there are sufficient funds for sustainable private sector investment in infrastructure.
“Mr O’Farrell is in effect cashing in essential public infrastructure for short term political gain.”
Mr Crumlin said today’s announcement ignored the critical ongoing debate in Australia regarding a National Ports Strategy.
“Australia is the fourth largest trading nation in the world when it comes to shipping and today’s decision is alienates the NSW Government from the national plan.
“Not only are they disaggregating a national approach as a trading and shipping nation but where is the blueprint for a strategic and sustainable policy for the three critical port regions in NSW – Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong.
"The economic, commercial and infrastructure needs of all three regions are linked to Port Botany.
“Privatisation of essential infrastructure such as ports has been dismissed worldwide. The O’Farrell government has gone to the policy lifeboats in the first six months of its term,” Mr Crumlin said.