More about Newcastle alternative: by Greg Cameron

Hon Barry O’Farrell MP

Premier of NSW

Hon Anthony Albanese MP

Minister for Infrastructure and Transport

Dear Mr O’Farrell and Mr Albanese,

In 2020, Port Botany container terminal is expected to reach its approved capacity of 3.2 million containers a  year.

Seventy-two per cent of these containers will be trucked.

If there are 2 containers per truck, 1.15 million trucks will depart Port Botany in 2020, at an average rate of 1 truck every 27 seconds.

If the NSW government approves expansion to 7 million containers a year, and 72% are trucked, it will require 2.5 million trucks, which would depart at the rate of 1 truck every 13 seconds.

In August 2011, Sydney Ports Corporation revealed a NSW government target of 60% of containers trucked from Port Botany by 2016.

But in October 2011, the NSW government amended this target to 72%, by 2020.

95% of containers entering NSW by ship are unloaded at Port Botany.

85% of the goods are consumed in Sydney.

However, Port Botany is inaccessible to the rest of NSW and all citizens of NSW, except for those who live in Sydney, are disadvantaged.

Although all container ships pass-by Newcastle on their way to Sydney, they are not unloaded at Newcastle because the NSW government decided in 2000 that they would be unloaded in Sydney.

Containers could be unloaded at Newcastle if a container terminal was built on the former Newcastle steelworks site.

The NSW government took ownership of this site in 2000, on behalf of the people of NSW.

For the previous 100 years, the site was privately owned, by BHP.

Containers could be railed from Newcastle to Sydney if bottlenecks on the ”Northern Sydney Freight Corridor” were removed.

A $1.1 billion program has been announced to remove some of the bottlenecks.

There are 15 additional bottlenecks to be removed if containers from Newcastle were to be railed to Sydney.

Completion of these 15 projects would allow Port Botany container terminal operations to relocate to Newcastle.

If, for argument’s sake, it costs $3 billion to build a container terminal at Newcastle and supporting rail service into Sydney, this represents an average capital cost of $60 million a year for 50 years.

One imagines that the cost of a B-Double truck travelling from Port Botany to Moorebank, a return journey of 80 km, would be more than $100.

If follows that consumers will pay more than $100 million a year to have containers trucked from Port Botany.

Additional costs of operating trucks from Port Botany include road congestion, road maintenance and harmful emissions.

This compares with $60 million a year to rail containers from Newcastle, plus operating costs.

On these figures, the capital option of transferring Port Botany container terminal operations to Newcastle would be justified.

Should the Port Botany container terminal site become vacant, a consideration would be to make it available for airport use.

There are two constraints on expanding Sydney Airport to meet future demand.

The first constraint is aircraft noise.

It would be possible to remove this constraint if additional aircraft movements above the 80/hour limit were permitted for aircraft that produce less than 85 decibels noise.

The second constraint is passenger terminal space.

It would be possible to build another passenger terminal on the container terminal site.

If runway capacity also became an impediment, a third parallel runway could be built.

People who live in regional areas of NSW are entitled to have the economic advantage of access to a container terminal.

But the NSW and Australian governments are both opposed to a container terminal at Newcastle.

Would the NSW and Australian governments be willing to step aside and allow a community-owned enterprise to undertake a participative economic development program for a container terminal at Newcastle, and associated rail infrastructure?

Yours faithfully,


Greg Cameron



Hunter region local councils; Hunter region state/federal MPs; Hon Gladys Berejiklian MP; Hon Mike Gallacher MLC; Hon Mike Baird MP; Hon Duncan Gay MLC; Mr Tony Windsor MP; Hon Richard Torbay MP; City of Botany Bay; Liverpool City Council; Newcastle Herald.

About Jim McGoldrick

An Alliance of Residents and Professionals fighting for justice in Australia. Working for people not political parties
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