A BILL for the long-term lease of Fremantle Port was introduced to State Parliament today.
Premier Colin Barnett said the Fremantle Port Assets (Disposal) Bill 2016 would give the Government the legal framework needed to lease the port to the private sector for up to 99 years.
The legislation, which will outline the access and pricing regime, will also include protections against unfair pricing and the misuse of market power.
He said the legislation was a milestone in the government’s plan to reduce debt.
“The long-term lease of Fremantle Port will be a cornerstone of the Government’s fiscal management plan, aimed at reducing Government debt and unlocking the potential for private sector capital investment to develop economic infrastructure to support and grow the Western Australian economy,” he said.
“Together with the proceeds of other transactions under the Government’s asset sales program, the Fremantle Port divestment is an important enabler of the funding future infrastructure initiative announced by the Treasurer when he delivered the 2016-17 State Budget last week.”
Treasurer Mike Nahan said leasing the port was a vital part of the Government being able to invest in the infrastructure needed to move livestock facilities from Fremantle to the outer harbour in Kwinana.
“Recognising the importance of maximising the taxpayers’ return on investment from the existing infrastructure, the Government is committed to the continuation of the Fremantle Inner Harbour as a container and general cargo port for the longer term,” he said.
“Analysis of capacity and trade growth has confirmed the Outer Harbour, which would be additional to the Inner Harbour operations, will not be required for at least 15 years and probably much longer.
“Allowing the Inner Harbour to reach its natural capacity means port prices will remain lower for all users, with the benefits passed on to the community.”
WA Labor leader Mark McGowan said he was opposed to the “fire sale” of Fremantle Port.
“That approach by this government is a disaster,” he said.
“The Premier’s approach is to wreck the finances, have a fire sale of important state assets and then leave, it’s not a plan, it’s a train wreck.”