Port privatisations short term gain for long term pain

The Barnett Government’s decision to privatise port assets represents a quick grab for cash, at the expense of a long-term revenue stream for the State Government.

Premier Colin Barnett yesterday announced the Kwinana Bulk Terminal would be privatised, as well as the Utah Point common user facility at the Port of Port Hedland.


Maritime Union of Australia WA Branch (MUAWA) Deputy Secretary Adrian Evans said it didn’t make sense to privatise these port facilities.

“We all know Colin Barnett has a massive debt problem, but selling assets that currently generate revenue for the State is a terrible legacy to leave to future generations,” he said.

“These asset sales may help Mr Barnett with his debt problem now, but the loss of the revenue stream these assets generate will make it more difficult for future governments to provide services like health and education.”

Mr Evans said privatisation created additional concerns in the areas of port user charges and safety.

“Once a Port is privatised, government loses control of the charges being charged by the Port, and there is plenty of evidence around Australia that shows that charges often go up.  This inevitably means higher prices for consumers, and works against job creation and growth in export industries.

“While we have worked successfully with both government and private sector port operators, we have found private operators are far more likely to cut corners on safety in an effort to squeeze greater profits for shareholders.

“No port privatisation should occur, unless it has been clearly and independently demonstrated that it is in the long term economic and employment interests of Western Australia, as well as the financial best interests of the State Government.

“Colin Barnett is behaving like he got his economics degree out of a wheeties packet in selling port assets that currently make big profits for taxpayers each year.”

MEDIA CONTACT:  Daniel Smith (08) 6311 2887