Port Privatisation a Proven Mistake

Port privatisation will short-change Territorians and result in job losses, according to the Maritime Union of Australia.

MUA Northern Territory Branch Secretary Thomas Mayor urged Adam Giles to reconsider his stance on port privatisation, adding that selling, or leasing profit-making assets was a short-sighted mistake that would cost tax payers well into the future.

Yesterday, Mr Giles made a statement hailing the successes of other formerly owned Government companies.

“Well I’m no expert on Qantas, or Queensland Rail but I do know that the privatisation of Australian ports has been nothing short of scandalous,” Mr Mayor said.

“Port privatisation has resulted in the loss of millions of dollars of public revenue, community interest agreements are in some cases not being adhered to, and port jobs have been lost.

Mr Mayor said that Flinders Ports, which was sold by the state of South Australia on a 99-year lease for $186 million in 2001, last year it had a profit of $25 million and dividends of $22 million, which would pay off the original sale price in less than four years.

“That’s 94 years whereby the people of South Australia are missing out on millions of dollars,” he said.

“I’d rather that $47 million went into building schools and hospitals in the Territory, rather than into the pockets of some overseas interest.”

The MUA has entered a submission into the Senate Inquiry on Port privatisation which has found beyond revenue and job losses that port fees for both shipping and stevedoring companies have increased significantly.

“It’s not only us opposing port privatisaion, in fact we find ourselves standing in solidarity with our old foes at Patrick,” Mayor joked.

Asciano, Patrick parent company, chief executive John Mullen has been very vocal in raising alarm about the privatisation of ports.

In the Australian Financial Review, Mr Mullen asked in light of the New South Wales ports privatisations what the Government wanted a port to be:

“Is it just something that sells, you get your dollar, and then have the new owners extract the maximum possible rent? Or is it actually a gateway, a facilitator of trade for your state? I mean, you maximise the rent, ultimately the exporter and the importer pays,” Mr Mullen mused in 2013.

Read the MUA's submission here.