MUA Questions Victorian Government Announcement on Webb Dock Redevelopment

The Maritime Union of Australia believes that today's announcement of a $1.2 billion re-development of the Port of Melbourne poses more questions than answers.

The Victorian Government today said the project involves the redevelopment of many areas of the Port with a major focus on returning Webb Dock to its previous role as a container terminal and the creation of direct road connections to the M1 West Gate Freeway.
 
Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu said the project will provide 700 direct jobs and 1,900 indirect jobs across Victoria, while opportunities for enhancing capacity expansion at Swanson Dock will also be provided.
 
The announcement comes just one day after Hutchison Port Holdings managing director for Australasia and North Asia, Raymond Law, confirmed the company's interest in becoming the third Melbourne container stevedore.
 
Mr Law told Lloyd's List DCN that Webb Dock was the ideal site for container operations, adding that HPH was not negotiating with the Victorian Government regarding setting up as the thirdstevedore.
 
MUA Assistant National Secretary Ian Bray said that while today's announcement flagged the creation of 700 jobs, certainty is required for the 400 workers currently employed at Webb Dock.
 
"I'll be holding urgent discussions with Patrick's Bulk and General Division in order to provide certainty for the current workforce," Mr Bray said.
 
"Beyond that, we're happy to talk to Hutchison or any other interested party regarding development of the site."
 
MUA Victorian Branch Secretary Kevin Bracken said today's announcement merely adds confusion to the future of the site.
 
"The recent announcement to shift the car trade to Geelong has been dismissed by industry, so where are they going to put a new container terminal - let alone a new suburb - on land which had been earmarked for port use?" Mr Bracken said.
 
"Everyone knows you can't get a rail link into Webb Dock yet this influx of container trade would put an increased load on a section of the Westgate Freeway which is already over capacity. You certainly can't put another 100,000 trucks on there - they simply won't fit.
 
"And with all of the extra suburbs currently being developed in Melbourne's west, the Victorian Government has made no effort to put in extra rail links, forcing more people onto the roads."
 
The Port of Melbourne is Australia's largest and busiest container port. Forecasts indicate a doubling of container volumes within the next ten to twelve years.