Australia

NSW Nats back Newcastle container terminal

John Barilaro has been urged to back a Labor motion on the Port of Newcastle after a vote by NSW Nationals members at the party's state conference.

The NSW Labor opposition has urged Deputy Premier John Barilaro to act after the Nationals state conference passed a motion backing a new container terminal in Newcastle.

The motion from the party's conference in late June called for "the scrapping of all obstacles facing the Newcastle container terminal expansion plans" including a cap on container numbers and a state government fee.

NSW Labor leader Jodi McKay visited Newcastle on Friday and called on Mr Barilaro, who leads the Nationals in NSW, to support the cancellation of a contract which hinders the terminal's development.

Under a privatisation deal with the state government in 2013, the Newcastle port is obliged to pay NSW Ports for loss of business if it handles more than 30,000 containers a year. NSW Ports owns the Port Botany and Port Kembla leases.

Australian's competition watchdog has taken legal action against NSW Ports over the $5.1 billion agreement alleging it's "anti-competitive and illegal".

"The people of Newcastle and the Hunter want to see action and even the Nationals rank-and-file members can see that the regions have been short-changed because of the deal," Ms McKay said in a statement.

"John Barilaro can either back a Labor motion calling for the contract to be torn up or we will back him - either way the time for empty posturing is over."

Motions passed at Nationals conferences inform party policy but aren't binding.

Mr Barilaro has been contacted for comment.

Port of Newcastle chief executive Craig Carmody has welcomed the motion saying it demonstrated the Nationals' commitment to the regional economy and jobs.

"The Newcastle container terminal ... will deliver more jobs in regional NSW, a reduction in unnecessary road and rail movements in and out of Sydney, and cheaper freight costs for importers and exporters across the state," he said previously in a statement.

NSW Nationals Moree branch chairman Brendan Moylan said growers estimate the cost of shipping grains and pulses would fall by as much as $20 per tonne if they were exported via container from Newcastle.

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch