Farmers welcome Port of Newcastle outcome

A bill that will reduce damage to country roads and help the state’s farmers save money has passed the NSW lower house.

NSW Farmers President Xavier Martin said farmers were poised to save up to $2.8 billion over the next 30 years thanks to a bill introduced by Independent MP Greg Piper, which would effectively “unshackle” the Port of Newcastle from an earlier deal struck by the Baird Government.

“We have been supportive of plans to better utilise the Port of Newcastle, and release it from the artificial barriers that are holding back its potential,” Mr Martin said.

“Farmers in the north west have had their produce trucked past Newcastle to Port Botany, which is wildly inefficient and results not only in extra wear and tear on our country roads, it puts more strain on an already-congested Sydney road network.

“Giving growers the opportunity to send more containerised produce through the Port of Newcastle in a more efficient manner would save farmers between $16 and $22 per tonne, or up to $2.8 billion over the next 30 years, allowing them to reinvest in their businesses and drive even more economic activity in the regions.”

In 2021, the Port of Newcastle exported 3 million tonnes bulk wheat – a 900 per cent year on year growth – and had fertiliser imports grow 69 per cent year on year. Meanwhile, growers were still trying to export their produce from previous years with on-farm storages packed to the brim. Mr Martin, a grain farmer from the Liverpool Plains, said efficient access to markets was critical for farmers, but high port charges, rail constraints and port bottlenecks were limiting future growth opportunities. 

“The fact that we’ve got produce being driven by road into the biggest city in the country is a clear sign we’ve got some big issues with our rail freight system,” Mr Martin said. 

“This bill opens the way to give the Port of Newcastle the opportunity to expand and grow and meet its potential – something that will save farmers money, grow the state economy, reduce strain on our roads, reduce truck emissions, and help the Hunter Valley in its eventual industrial transition away from coal mining.

“Improving the regional freight networks that drive so much economic activity is one of our key priorities, and I thank the Parliament for voting to remove one of the roadblocks to future success.”

Date: Tuesday, November 8, 2022
Media Contact: Steve Mudd  | 0429 011 690 | [email protected]