SMH & Fin churnalism

The media prevent the repair

Posting of SMH AFR failures

Tom Rabe published an erroneous and misleading piece in the SMH on the prospects of the Port of Newcastle, on 24 Feb ’20. As with previous poor efforts there and in the Financial Review, I asked for “balance” and gave a reasonable deadline for a response. As previously, the Nine/Fairfax editorial team were AWOL.

This situation has got to a critical phase in the destruction of the NSW port and logistics “pipeline”. The State does not and will not have sufficient port and rail support capacity to met its mercantile needs within the “pipeline” period of proper infrastructure planning. 

Instead, the capricious and incompetent manoeuvres of populist politicians dominate a supine logistics industry sector that bears heavily on Australia’s carbon futures.

The SMH and AFR, Ports Australia, iA, iNSW, GSC, the ARTC, NSW Transport and NSW Ports, as well of course Sydney Ports, are enforcing a corrupt monopoly direction which sees

  • the withering of the container handling potential of Ports Newcastle and Kembla, with inadequate management capacities in each 
  • the domination of the “Botany Club” which includes Premiers and PMs
  • inexorable increases in trucking of containers and car imports on mixed use roads around Wollongong, up Mt Ousley and into Sutherland (“Morrison’s Backyard”), from Botany through Bayside to the West and South West
  • the enforcement of an economically irrational Labor creation at the Moorebank intermodal terminal and critical failings through the metropolitan freight systems
  • sterilisation of improvements to Illawarra passenger and coal capacities, both of which are in self-admitted “crisis” states, together with strangulation of SW commuting and of the re-balancing of employment from east to west – to reduce congestion
  • undermining of Inland Rail which has a miniscule capacity compared with its proper potential, through the domination of regional incompetent Nats, together with the continuation of Truss’s interference with proper processes 
  • irresponsible and unaccountable performance by MPs, regional chambers, ROCs, city councils, the ARTC and the Federal and State Governments.

Specifics follow, including communications to ARTC, the Port of Newcastle and Governments.


Going backwards.

Greg Carmody, CEO of PON, has maintained the LIE that he has a queue of investors lined up for a container terminal at Mayfield. Pig’s bum he has, he says the impediment is a removable levy, no, it’s a lack of transport infrastructure connections, and he, with Roy Green, Warren Truss, Michael McCormack, John Barilaro, and the local RDA, Business Chamber and Labor MP, are retailers of that LIE. Their partner in that deceit is Nine/Fairfax. Baird was duplicitous but so are they.

That is reflected in Tom Rabe’s “State deal blocking world's largest coal port from fossil fuel exit” in the SMH on 24 Feb ’20.  That need not be quoted here as it is crap from go to whoa, and will be demolished in the general commentary.

Case for Removal of Roy Green © RG 26 08 18

based on the incompetent basis of PON’s approaches and maltreatment of IP

Newcastle is looking for an integrated solution for its port and ancillary assets; and the Port is looking for a successful diversification strategy that is centred on containers but has other elements. 

It appears that the Port company lacks the evidentiary, analytical and policy skills it needs to achieve its own objectives and might be repeating Kembla’s over-investment direction; while the community lacks leadership and won’t find it in PON any more than in the City Council, RDA or Chamber. 

PON cannot bring forward the approval of a terminal to next year; I think I can. It had no infrastructure plan and is stealing mine. I am justified in protecting my Intellectual Property and deserve to be paid properly – so lifting performance, quality and urgency.

Towards the end of his first year, Green’s is a record of failure as recounted below; and he has shown neither remorse nor adaptation. He has no answers and he will not be allowed to steal mine. 

As I have no prospect of fair and professional treatment from him, and as the Board’s and region’s hopes are receding, I see no choice but for the Board to protect its shareholders’ interests and require Green to depart.

At the beginning of May, I circulated a position statement to Ministers and others, from which this quote was drawn, the “critical issues” being missed by PON:


While   Port Botany grows even without commensurate road and railing capacity, the   regional cities will get their terminals when Hell freezes over if they keep   going with tired ideas under the same tutelage as Port Botany. 

Neither   satellite realises they are being cannibalised by their Sydney and Western   Sydney siblings which are aligned with Federal and State Coalition   Governments. Neither have been willing   to consider the independent expert. They will not combine approaches.

Details - general

The immediate situation is seriously awry from being a steady path fromconfusion and deceit towards robust regional improvement. The problems are known but are being exacerbated, not fixed. The challenges include:

  1. In terms of a formal submission to TfNSW and in publicity, Green’s then Carmody’s reliance on a Deloittes report is no basis for proper negotiation, it having serious defects in evidence, analysis and awareness of critical issues; and is facing increasing exposure of its defects (see
  2. Departure of CEO at the time of Deloittes’ exposure, with Green only saying “don’t read too much into it
  3. Green alienating me after I early expressed the opinions in (1) and added that the manic focus on secret levies is peripheral (to which he said “I don’t quite know how to respond”). Green knew I had worked on relevant issues for a decade and more, as the State’s expert in these matters and as being committed to Newcastle’s success, and he refused to sign a suitable “deed of confidentiality” – so he still has no real idea of what my work comprises. Prof Phil O’Neill has joined in my biggest points which included PON’s failures in analysing Deloittes 
  4. My advising ARTC of my scheme under strict copyright terms in April ‘18, and attempts to engage regional stakeholders similarly (with brief summaries)
  5. Green then releasing an unamended Deloittes in Sydney, reported in the media without journalistic nous
  6. Business Chamber, chaired by the same ARTC executive, pushed long bypass of Sydney (only) in its submission to TfNSW
  7. My advising Green I no longer supported him but did Newcastle 
  8. My requesting Board consideration of my case for a better approach that is professional in socio-political and economic dimensions, and receiving no reply
  9. My establishment of a pro-improvement website including forensic rejection of Green’s approach
  10. Departure of DP World as the prospective container client and investor
  11. Appointment of a political operative with web and media repetitions of all of the errors in Green’s approach, including focus on the idiotic long by-pass of Sydney 
  12. Strengthening of my website in terms of the defects of Deloittes and Green’s approach including “PON cannot win if it continues current directions
  13. My appearance in the Newcastle Herald and then on ABC Newcastle Radio (on 21 August), including all-round rejection of Green and expression of the case for access via the Inland Bridge and smarter approach including Calfas which PON has had no awareness of or response to
  14. Green’s despicable email to me on that evening (21 August) after he had received the audio file of my radio appearance (message at 4:35 pm: “I warned you but no, you’re too superior to listen to the top Transport and Ports nous in NSW. The PM needs to get real, fast”) (reply points numbered in square brackets):


Green's Response

This may surprise you but [1] I don’t disagree at all about the importance of inland rail. Nor does PON which is working closely with [2] ARTC and [3] others on the connections that would make sense in the context of a container terminal. 

The problem you have is that no one is engaging with you because [4] you insist on being paidfor your opinion on how this might be done. And maybe you have some other ideas as well. Can I respectfully suggest you would have far more impact if you were prepared to share your ideas [5] openlylike most other people contributing to our cause. No one has a monopoly of wisdom in this area. I for one would be only too delighted to publicly acknowledge your authorship of any ideas that are taken up if that’s your concern. 

It just seems a shame to me that you sit there down south [6] taking potshots at everyone when you have [7] so much expertise and experience to offer. I’ve got a thick skin so don’t mind the potshots but I’d much rather have you [8] wielding the sword or pen on our behalf

We’ll be making a [9] very positive announcement shortly on the container terminal strategy and it would be wonderful if you could [10] join the discussion in similar vein at that point and beyond. 

What do you think? Are you ready for a [11] more collaborative role

Best regards 


PON posted artist’s impressions of container ships entering and in a Newcastle Terminal where PON has no infrastructure plan, no planning approval, no economic case capable of meeting Ports NSW’s formal requirements, and no idea of scale economics in the supply chain context. This is the assertion of “spin” in a context dominated by deceit – as I said on Radio, this time “Newcastle is dudding itself”. I also pointed to Kembla’s situation and the ban on trucking, in response to media concern in the previous week.

This circus has been going since 2012, with the industry agreeing with my reports but asking that I publish free, for their usage. Green knew that and my attitude, which is – bastards ….  The consequences include continuing disarray and mistakes in industry work; and the increasing domination of populist politics in undermining solid logistics and “pipeline” economics. The next morning I replied:

No:  I get paid for the value of my change quality work, finis.  It is far superior to PON’s.

You pay your staff, Deloittes, sponsees et al.

$100 m for a wee business case seems to now be the yardstick, I resent anyone saying I should be treated unfairly.

My insights are not to be used by PON in any way at all.

Either come back with a real offer or do something useful with your life.  I’ve been treated by you as a mushroom too long.


Detailed responses to Green’s email [to the points numbered within square brackets]:

1. Rail Bypass etc:  No one was talking Inland Rail until I added that insight as part of my strategic report; and Green started after I told him I’d copyrighted Prof Lee’s and my route concept. His change to Inland Rail from his long-term disagreement/rejection of me (being the first person to raise the idea and copyrighted it), is unacceptable. He is bound to his stupid by-pass as was ARTC (Chamber submission dated 12 April ’18). Green’s submission actually said the bypass could be part of Inland Rail! ABC Radio host Paul Bevan said that both Green and Carmody had pushed the bypass on-air at the time of Carmody’s appointment (which was at the end of May ’18). (The same copyright applies to Calfas, socio-economic arguments at Botany, high-voltage A/C, work with Kembla,  and scale economics etc – all points missed by PON, the Chamber, RDA, NCC et al.) 

Green wrote on 11 April ’18: “would be useful if you can integrate Newcastle container planning including Newcastle-PK dedicated freight rail corridor via Eastern Creek **. Otherwise PB role may depend heavily on trucks on WestConnex with $60-80 tolls”:

  • He didn’t understand my Eastern Seabord Rail Freight Development Plan as he hasn’t signed the Confidentiality Deed
  • The comment on PB is ignorant of facts, same comment, including how would Botany be supported – by closure?!?
  • I would NEVER integrate that joke of a corridor, this is appalling illogicality

** In my Freight Plan from 2012 – again, no one has attributed or paid for that so I’m roaring

2. ARTC: Secret discussions, to what end – more mistakes? Green gives the impression of trying to be cute after being smacked for incompetence, unacceptable and they have been so informed

3. Others: presumably Greg Cameron and/or additional consultants which I will resent and vigorously critique. Enough obvious blunders have been perpetrated through amateur daydreaming. If Carmody’s ex-employer, Maersk, they will be informed of the problems as DP World had been – DPW had the chance of advancing their own commercial prospects but refused to. 

PON is hunting for cruise liners but the Australian’s recent special feature on regional liner destinations did not even mention Newcastle. PON is proposing a variety of new facilities but I question whether they understand market economics, having got the container catchment so wrong (see website). This happened at Kembla where the development plan for higher throughput meant higher charges, meaning even the port’s owners sent their coal to Newcastle via an incredibly inefficient route, meaning less throughput!

4. Does Green live in a bubble? Plumbers, consultants, politicians and others get paid, even he gets paid regardless of judgements of little or no added value. I gave the industry the option of paying for my work as Globestar did in 2003 on behalf of Shipping Australia, or experiencing the “opportunity costs” which Green is now. His attitude is primordial and out of touch with the real world. It shows he made a mistake at the beginning, has been smacked and is now cheating his way out (as if). As for other ideas – this is idiotic, inconsistent with [7]

5. “No one has a monopoly” – how would he know? Again, PON has been found out and is leeching the community as though that will evade my copyrights

6. Potshots: he also enjoys them? Political and moral suasion is the only mode of persuasion Green has left me, so this is a consequence of his own behaviour and attitudes

7. So much expertise and experience: refused to find out via Deed of Confidentiality so is fishing? Obviously greater than PON’s, the industry sectors’, TfNSW, iA, PON, the Chamber, ARTC’s etc, therefore more valuable. Green didn’t even know about the econometric study of the Botany line

8. On our behalf: rubbish, he refuses to pay for his company’s interests, he is illogical

9. A very positive announcement: of successful theft of IP? His own resignation? Maersk? NSW Government faux-promises? Better artist’s impressions?

10. Join the discussion: more of the above, rubbish, the normal sequence is to table quality work beforeconsultation which also would show competence and leadership

11. More collaborative: he’s begging after pissing me about for 4 months -  see especially my email of 24 May – “I’m a lot annoyed I’m doing a much better job than anyone else and no one will pay me. This is the third and last time – I’m going to start to bite”.

In conclusion, PON is tied to the bypass and unsuccessful political approach as based on the decrepit Deloittes report. It shows the same deficient attitudes as do Ports Australia, Shipping Australia, the Australian Logistics Council and the NSW Business Chamber. [NB schedule of disparities in submissions to TfNSW & Calfas being held back but ready to go on website.]

His emails illustrate Green’s mistakes and now his evasions of fair and sensible practice. The new CEO of PON is a PR manager, not an operative or analyst, judging by what is known of his history. (He has not replied to polite questions.) Newcastle has had too much cant and deceit, and now needs a positive, professional can-do logistical and political person to lead its further development.

That is a judgement which Mr Carmody can address so long as he keeps to realities. He and others should focus on successful outcomes instead of narcissistic game-playing – that is my submission.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

As reported elsewhere, Barilaro has been up and down and out on PON, with the impression at the end he is confused, incompetent and uncaring.

On Jan 15, ’20, Carmody announced this – reinforcing the backroom corruption:

Newcastle local and former NSW Nationals State Director Ross Cadell has joined Port of Newcastle at a critical time for the diversification of the Hunter economy and its international trade gateway. 

Mr Cadell begins as Special Projects Director on 3 February, leading the political and regional stakeholder engagement efforts as the Port works alongside all levels of government to advance key infrastructure projects that will future-proof the local, state and national economies. 

Port of Newcastle CEO Craig Carmody welcomed Mr Cadell’s unique blend of experience in business and politics, coupled with local knowledge, as the Port prepares to push ahead with projects such as the $1.8 billion privately-funded Multi- purpose Deepwater Terminal (MDT) with government support. 

“Ross recently finished as the Nationals Campaign Director for both the 2019 NSW and Federal elections, having previously acted as regional co-ordinator for the Nationals,” Mr Carmody said. 

I have written to ARTC (truss and Graham), the Newcastle RDA, ROC and Chamber etc, Gallacher and other execs in the port and logistics industries, the Business Council of Australia, the RBA and Sir Rod Eddington, and others including Lindsay Fox, but no, all stuum.

Treasurer Frydenberg is my special target for various reasons, not least being his kicking me. Taking this just one step further, on 18 Feb ’18 I wrote to all Coalition Parliamentarians, as previously, with the following admonitions:

Four issues: deceiving the community, waste, incompetence & thievery

You’ve had advices before of a growing crisis in credibility, my inability to get PMs and Premiers to face well-analysed problems and broken promises, and serial theft (and deprivation of rights and abilities*) of my copyrighted IP. (This crisis shows up nonsense in the Boat People debate as there is plenty of housing capacity but massive waste in infrastructure spending, with immigration changes having minimal quantitative impacts. There is no professional, considered “plan” to manage population changes.)

I have answers but why can’t I get a straightforward negotiation instead of recusal, rejection and further thefts by the NSW Government? NSW is in a materially worse situation because of “The Club’s” rejection of my work – in terms of congestion, affordability, local government and planning legislation, Budgets, regional performance, community cynicism and employment prospects, among other things. Premier Berejiklian is facing electoral pressure over stupid densification targets, and why? The real motive is hidden, relating to HK corporate intentions being subsidised by $20 billion!

The crisis comprises the confluence of breakdowns in Sydney’s and regional planning as reflected in these websites:

J’accuse. I’m one of the State’s most highly qualified and experienced reformers yet am rejected by the “Club” whose members – nominated on the websites - have no education, experience or ability in State and city planning. They are 100%, gold-plated, unashamed and narcissistic  blunderers.

I offered the new PM a settlement package on 10 September last, with subsequent follow-ups; and the Treasurer the same through the December MYEFO. The resounding silence continues except that the Treasurer blocked my main email address – and what does that achieve, I wonder?

The MYEFO context is critical because the 2018 Budget included two provisions which reflect the corruption of process and purpose, which are being deliberately continued instead of fixed, namely

1. $400 million to the duplication of the Port Botany Freight Line, PM Turnbull heralding the reduction in truck movements but

a. a 2015-16 econometric study, the only one of its kind in Australia at that point, found that duplication would not put a single extra train on the line, meaning no reduction in trucking – DIRD gave every impression they knew naught of such published work, which is not surprising

b. the Botany approach is the outcome of a Baird-led distortion of competition principles which ACCC is investigating, the effects being a long-term intensification of truck congestion in the PM’s own electorate. Berejiklian and the Nats Ministers have broken promises and lied – with the PM staying stumm (cf

c. my proposal was publication of a Green Paper based on my Eastern Seabord Long Term Rail Development Plan (2012 to now, ignored by Albanese, Truss, McCormack and Gay/Pavey et al). That could be funded within the $400 million

2. A $100 million lucky door prize to favoured consultants for an insignificant and implausible “business case”, being a gift from PM Turnbull and Premier Berejiklian to the biggest blunder in Australian planning history - with the decision on who-gets-what resting with Mrs Lucy Turnbull who has significant inter-involvements across many fields, despite

a. the project being completely illegitimate, with no adequate pre-studies, no “business case” BEFORE decision (which was clearly made in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, and is wrongly immutable), and no system integration, Minister Constance lying that Badgerys SSA will have transit support when it opens

b. the concept permanently damaging the Inland Rail national priority, commuting effectiveness and congestion in the Illawarra and South West, Parramatta CBD (that City was excluded by GSC, Dr Kennedy and Minister Taylor, as were Wollongong and Blacktown), and Sydney/Parramatta faster rail

c. the real motive being Premier Berejiklian’s embarrassment at the revelation of sodden assumptions under the NW and Bankstown “Hong Kong MTR Model” – in fact, the repudiation of the Baird Model, for reasons that were stated by this analyst as the beginning of the chaotic “planning stench” (BOF’s term)

d. my solution being, reducing the largesse and potential corruption from $100 million to $0.5 million, with the balance going to what is most needed namely a proper planning process based around a Green Paper (my Eddington Bedrock: from Christie to Greiner to Gibbons).

I have normal regard for polling but mine is not a political stance as I am attacking Labor as well as the Coalition over their shared obsessions with dumb ideas. Conversely, I gave PM Morrison the opportunity to use my work to the Government’s benefit in the run-up to the NSW then Federal elections. Messrs Morrison and Frydenberg have all but blown that chance.

I’m justifiably sick and tired of the underlying psychoses and pettiness that see the best ideas excluded and barbaric unfairness regarded as a norm – in betrayal of Menzies. One of my Facebook postings has this quote (which is being ignored by the Menzies RC, the Sydney Institute and the Centre for Independent Studies – why?).

I’m going to pursue my claim every day of the next four months – until I get a sensible, professional response from PM Morrison. I ask you to consider the situation and articulate your perspective, as the negative impacts will be very collective.


* My legitimate recompense will cover a major donation to Save the Children (and the Smith Family’s campaign to save Australian children), 10 demonstration fire- and storm-proof homes that are cheaper to build than conventional styles, a national institute for prosperous regions (honouring past heroes from every State and Territory), commencement of the world’s first pure solar train, and a community Crystal Theatre that will be on Grand Designs. Regional prosperity is my theme and there are many elements. The costs of recusal and delay sit on the heads of the bastards who have mistreated me.

Truss & ARTC

Letter of 7 Sept '18

I ask your Board to review the above subject with the view of preventing further conflicts of interest and perception if not reality of plagiarism.

The facts are as follows but I note that Mr Vandervoort [ARTC Exec, Hunter Chamber]  faces the following facts:

1. He is responsible for making representations to governments on land connections to the Port of Newcastle, as chair of the Business Chamber which formally supports the long rail by-pass of Sydney, which I regard as a political sham, economic anomaly and practical impossibility to achieve

2. He is responsible for 

a. Advising Governments on the matters under (1), and

b. Accepting Budget allocations, negotiating third-party agreements, and giving effect to matters under (1)

3. He has consistently failed to return my calls, messages and emails over several months, leading to a loss of credibility in the planning of land transport and other aspects of the Port’s development planning.

I ask you to look at my correspondence, which should be on file, and at my public website,, which Mr Vandervoort should have informed you of as it affects ARTC’s probity and professional public repute.

Please note that I am also forwarding similar letters to the Minister and to ANAO.

Continues as in commentary of Green


Copyright as is everything

The official hierarchy of ports is Botany first and until full, Kembla second, and Newcastle third. There is no proper strategy that supports this product of capricious Ministerial statements:

  • No economic analysis of a broad multi-regional type done by the Brookings Institute or of sub-elements

  • No employment and housing strategy that meshes with current and future jobs, infrastructure and social infrastructure patterns

  • No proper industry inputs that professionally address all such factors as smart “white knights”.

It is a classic case of State Government sleight-of-hand. The situation also requires the State Business Chamber (which uniquely covers four affected regions) to do what its website said:

NSW Business Chamber has learnt to stay the course, remain resolute and never give up.... It’s about fearless advocacy ... but also recognising that results come through partnership with other advocacy groups and governments on constructive solutions.

That it does not do so is tragic for NSW industry and regions. The fact is, its Western Sydney subsidiary undermined my freight and port and Blue Mountains work and the City Deal-cum-St Marys Metro. It cannibalised its Newcastle and Wollongong siblings without any of them having a clue about economics, logic and unintended consequences. Its Newcastle chair is conflicted-out with his government role and should never have been admitted let alone elected as chair, in my opinion.

ALC injected a degree of economic realism – and possibly lack of faith in the Calfas team:

  • We question whether the State Government’s intention to list Port Kembla as the state’s next major container terminal, once Port Botany reaches capacity will be adhered to by the incumbent lessee of the Port Botany and Port Kembla facilities? If container facilities at Port Kembla eventuate, then significant land freight network improvements will have to be made to enable the movement of cargo to/from the port. There is already significant use of rail for movement of cargo (mainly coal) to and from Port Kembla and this is expected to double by 2031. Funding infrastructure for the transport of containers could be an issue, given that once ports are leased, the revenue stream for the Government from port charges would naturally cease. 

Two NSW “projects” in the 2018 Budget immediately failed economic blunder-checking tests, tripping up the PM badly, beingho’s occupying the corner offices. Write a nice bio about each executive that includes what they do, how long they’ve been at it, 


1. $400 million for the duplication of the Botany Freight Line where economic analyses, reported in The Conversation (below), showed that not one more train would be delivered through duplication. Compare that with the PM’s rave: 

  • “Every single additional train with containers along this rail line takes 50 trucks off the roads,” he said. “The goal is to increase the rail share of this Port Botany port, this container port from just under 20% to 40% and we’re seeing big growth in the port as well.”

2. The $50 million (plus the State’s $50 million!*) for the “business case” for the Metro line from St Marys to Badgerys Airport is a deliberate deceit with multiple “unintended consequences” including

a. Badgerys airport will not have high-quality transit services and very real options were deliberately sterilised without election legitimacy or process probity

b. Parramatta CBD is again disadvantaged as St Marys has no logic, the Airport line should be full rail to Parramatta and up the Epping link to the Metro there

c. There will be further degradation of the commuting, freight and special events capabilities of the Bradfield rail system

d. The undermining of the economic interests of the logistics chain from Wollongong via the SW and Western Sydney to Parkes, and the associated movement of jobs west

e. The Inland Rail’s logistics basis is reduced through cutting-off Port Kembla and forcing grain, coal and minerals trains through the metropolitan network

f. The numbers of car carriers and coal trucks on Mount Ousley and Picton Roads will increase rather than fall substantially (with the same logic applying around Ports Botany and Hunter), and 

g. Commuting support to the growing population of the South West and Illawarra are lost with a passenger crisis from 2020 and coal crisis from 2031 - in the context of the $100 billion waiting list of unfunded promises in Berejiklian’s inner zones menu of metros, trams and mega-tunnels without due diligence legitimisation.


Shipping Australia’s submission was the only one to hit the central Port issue on its head, albeit it got its formulae wrong and noting the PM seems to have no clue about such reality:

  • It is noted that the strategy addresses the outer harbour expansion project at Port Kembla. The concept plan proposes the development of two separate container facilities, each serviced by two berths. The two terminals are expected to be constructed between 2014-2025 and 2026-2037 respectively, depending on demand. Each berth would have capacity of 300,000 TEU per annum, providing a total capacity of 1.2 million TEU per annum upon completion in 2037 (AECOM Australia; 2010) 

In our view, too little, too late. On page 170 of the draft strategy, it says that in 2011, Sydney Ports Corporation forecast an increase in the container trade from 2 million TEU in 2010-2011 to 10.98 million TEU in 2036.

ALC also got its numbers wrong according to the modelling (below) but the direction right:

  • By 2040, Port Botany is estimated to have a container throughput of 7 million TEU – almost three times the container throughput achieved in 2016.13. ALC has long held the view that the duplication of a 2.84km section of single track between Port Botany and Enfield is a vital infrastructure project for NSW. The project is currently listed as a ‘High Priority Initiative’ by Infrastructure Australia. Transport for NSW currently lists the project as being in the planning phase. 

Both forgot or didn’t know about the only real rail capacity econometrics I am aware of: 

The foreign economists[1]who reviewed Port Botany’s railing revealed these myths (NB their throughput projections are questioned*):

  • the peak capacity of Port Botany’s current rail resources is 1.78 million containers per annum, which is well above the levels needed to achieve the 28% rail targets over the next decade and beyond 

  • Industry myth: “Not only is rail capacity [at Port Botany] insufficient for current container demand, there is no rail capacity to meet future container demand” 

  • * capacity gains do not depend on any investment in new tracks or trains: they can be achieved just by improving operational practices at Port Botany. Indeed, our analysis also isolated the reasons why the rail infrastructure at Port Botany appears congested: 

              o low-volume trains

              o unproductive staging practices, and 

              o peak-hour congestion stemming from poor train scheduling 

  • * building expensive new infrastructure will produce marginal volume gains: 4% for a new centralised rail terminal, 0.4% for upgrading the current ones, and no improvement at all for the proposed track duplication project

* the key lies in streamlining its operations. Our recommendations include:

o a dynamic train scheduling system to replace fixed servicing times at stevedore terminals;

o train staging outside the port precinct; and

o standardising all port-bound trains so that they contain a minimum number of containers


Note that 28% involves   excessive and unacceptable road movements,* and the sustainable “social   contract” railing level remains at 40% via Kirby and Turnbull if throughput is to increase over say 3 million TEU   p.a. The railing capacity needed at 4   million TEU is 1.6 million TEU while at 7 million TEU it is 2.8 million   TEU. The truck numbers are modelled in the confidential appendix to the original report and are horrifying, showing that Governments have surrendered their credibility to political  naïveties and lobbyists with fancy PowerPoints and suspect motives. The respective train numbers are c 100   trains per day and 170 trains per day (both “full” – more if the current   disarray continues). 

I have done detailed capacity and   productivity projections and a social impact matrix – all for the first time   - in order to give a boundary to the social contract and say that Botany must   overspill by 2025 if*   truck numbers are not to explode beyond all acceptable limits.

* This conclusion is in white font as a protected IP,   as are passages related to recovery strategies


 NB The Chinese investors have got poor value from their chosen managers

The remaining misunderstandings that are beyond the industry’s, Governments’ and Calfas Panel’s ability to resolve, all three main ports being at risk, include:

  • Maldon-Dombarton can carry high levels of passenger and freight traffic: Centurion, S Jones MP, Business Chamber, City Council, Parkes Council, TfNSW, ARTC. They didn’t read the feasibility assessment report and were distracted from preparing an effective strategy to take car carriers off Mt Ousley, not to mention addressing a regional commuter crisis from 2020 and a coal crisis from 2031. Now TfNSW has tried to pretend a new line with 20-km tunnel is somehow feasible – it is not, it is a fraud

  • Newcastle’s belief: a massive new rail project across the most difficult terrain carrying a thin payload and supposedly able to connect with the distant Inland Rail will be approved by a State Government that doesn’t like Newcastle and whose own and lobbies’ back pockets would be hurt

  • A Central West collation of councils: see one section of Inland Rail at a time and trusting conflicted Ministers they talk to “to do the right thing”, while the Inland Rail is not working now or in the foreseeable future

  • A Western Sydney “business” community comprising Labor figures from failed, loud ideas: cannibalised their Illawarra and Hunter brethren without the victims even realising. They lead State and Federal Coalition Governments by the nose, after O’Farrell promised to end “Labor’s planning stench” (which still festers in Macquarie Street).

One industry submission to TfNSW on the draft of a revision of the 2013 Freight and Port “Plan” said it was a national exemplar, but every other body said the opposite. Not one, including the main victim, Port of Newcastle, can see a way to relieve their burdens, but waste money on clock-watchers and reject outsider ideas and experts in a classic “groupthink” loss of reality.  

[1] See Harabor, Guimarans and Van Hentenryck, , “Port Botany doesn’t need another expensive rail project – here is the evidence”, The Conversation of 9 February 2016

calfas & city deal

A Turnbull/Berejiklian Special Deceit

Some years ago, say in 2013-4, iA contracted a disease that is common in NSW, of backfilling on a capricious Ministerial announcement with an analytically weak “independent” report as retrospective “justification”. Its host, the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, was specifically infected, especially after a period when the Prime Minister’s Office had micro-managed it according to Mike Mrdak.  (A specific example was trying to justify double-handling as a virtue at Moorebank while its chair was on iA’s Board.) ( 

Berejiklian and Turnbull knew I’d written Thinking Logical Logistics ll and strangely (but as with my critique of the Greater Sydney Commission’s performance), iA conducted an “industry consultation” exercise through a Panel that was chaired by Calfas, two of the other three members being associated with iA and Botany/Moorebank. 

The Panel did not present a professional SWOT and also misunderstood the nature of “critical issues” and “scenario planning”, so the methodological and empirical gaps are fatal. To illustrate, one of the most profoundly critical issues is the WS City Deal’s defilement of Port Kembla’s access to Inland Rail and the Illawarra’s economic future post-BHP. This is what the Panel said:

  • Preserve and protect land, air and water transport corridors and buffer/transition zones, as well as land for future freight use in growth areas, such as projects for the development of an alternative rail alignment into Port Kembla, Western Sydney Airport freight related road and rail, a high capacity rail link to the Port of Brisbane and intermodal terminal and pipeline connections and future intermodal locations for Inland Rail. 
  • Target Commonwealth investment toward key freight routes and associated first/last mile roads, with investment aligned to the National Strategy. For example from City Deals … Implement key objectives and recommendations of the National Freight Strategy as part of City Deals 
  • NSW is preparing for large growth in freight volumes across Greater Sydney and regional NSW, and is supporting industry to take advantage of new technology to improve freight movement

That is their summary of the NSW crisis (apart from generic urban congestion). Newcastle does not get a mention, as usual. Genuine “critical issues” were omitted (as in most industry submissions to the Panel). The host agency, DIRD/iA, is in the same position with their relevant reports.  They didn’t even mention the PM’s proclivity in taking dud projects off Treasury and Budget cycles through unconstitutional devices, including City Plans.

It is simply not good enough. Thinking Logical Logistics ll has greater relevance.  

The City Deal was engineered by the then Cities’ Angus Taylor MP and – as publicly revealed – a PMO executive who had not previously worked in urban and regional planning. They reversed the UK precedent by reinforcing central capricious control instead of delegating and devolving to city-states as in the UK. The pressure had come from my critiques of the GSC conflicted structures, legislation, methodology, empiricism and analysis.

The pre-planning had no councils involved but then discussions proceeded with 8 councils in GSC’s arbitrary “Parkland” city. It excluded three with massive interests, namely Wollongong, Parramatta and Blacktown. (Under Carr, DPC conducted extensive consultations about the formation shapes of Sydney’s regions, the outcome being “catchment-based”. GSC ignored that.)

The City Deal was running towards a South West to St Marys via Badgerys orientation, partly for passenger services but also linking with Maldon-Dombarton which the Chinese Centurion wanted to use fast trains on. (They don’t mix, below.) 

At the 11th hour, the 72nd week of 72, the Prime Minister and Berejiklian capriciously rotated the route so that the South West will be metro rail and incapable of carrying freight trains, thus killing all commuting benefits but favouring the Berejiklian Chinese NW metro model which is failing and apparently deserves camouflage instead of correction.

The 8 Councils were given $15 million each for community benefits so Wollondilly households got the $800 jackpot. Blue Mountains took the lollies, saying that at least our hatred of the Badgerys Airport was stated somewhere. Liverpool thought that the Deal that excluded her LGA was a “huge win for Western Sydney”. Bankstown “welcomed” the Metro then opposed it after RG explained the reality Vs the bull! 

Supposedly the St Marys logic was based on the WS Rail Needs Scoping Study which did not satisfy stages 1 and 2 of iA’s protocols (although it did not have the geographical disability of the City Deal), in particular it:

· Suggests rail access not needed when airport opens

· States sotto voce that metro technology is preferred but without meeting due diligence protocols = PM’s notion of “ideology and stupidity”. 

o “The preferred type of rail for the East-West Link from Western Sydney Airport to Greater Parramatta is a rapid metro. This provides high frequency, all stop services and competitive journey times while connecting communities along the route. These trains are designed to operate at up to 130km/h”-  is not impartial. 

o The XPT operates well below its design speed and cutting metros off from the Bradfield system is possibly the worst error ever made in Sydney’s history (previously the non-implementation of the 1909 recommendation to lift the CBD and suburban tram tracks and re-lay them around the new electrified rail’s stations).

· Does not discuss freight uses of a north/south connection which is now doubly critical given $10 billion to inland rail bridge + iA clarion calls to protect long-term corridors. Maldon-Dombarton and Moss Vale-Unanderra both need that heavy rail connection through to Inland Rail

· Has excellent sensitivities etc but accepts an invalid circular argument from GSC – 30-Minute City = axial rail = metro not “expressnet” etc. iA itself disproved 30-Minute Cities in its Growth implications report, meaning the ideological basis of the Scoping report invalidates it. (That iA report assumed SW to Badgerys and to NW so the pessimism about 30-Minutes was justified – GSC is in disgrace.)

· Includes options but gets relative capacities completely wrong, repeating a mistake iNSW (then iA) made in 2012 in using MTR (proponent) numbers – rail is 38,400 not 28,800; and metro is 30,000 (15% seated!) not 46,000. Greiner 2012 confirmed Bradfield re-engineering at 40,000. The metro is a myth in most respects

· Gets value capture and Transit Orientated Development economics and practicality wrong – see this analysts’ refutation of the PM’s and Minister Fletcher’s (et al’s) proclamations at the time -

A mythical outer orbital including 20-km tunnel has been floated by TfNSW as with the equally mythical long rail by-pass of Sydney (below). Both have been left to the never-never in a State where $15.9 billion from poles and wires blew out to $80 billion then over $100 billion in Berejiklian’s elongation of Labor’s horror story. 

Logistics chains as well as corridor reservations and capacity adjustments require careful planning, route reservations and staged construction, all heading in the right direction. The current intentions use the wrong technology, wrong trackage and wrong route. The run-ons are horrendous. 

The greatest myth is that Maldon-Dombarton linked to the SW chain had been properly planned. (I say that as one of the three initial planners in the Dark Ages of 1981-2.) Albanese’s Feasibility Study said it has a maximum capacity of 60 trains per day (which is doubtful given over-standard grades) which is about 2 million TEU; but the Illawarra’s SWIRL has fast trains on it as well as its baseloads of grains, minerals, coal and car imports (if TfNSW can get its act together).

SWIRL’s case and iA’s evaluation are disreputable but so is Newcastle’s case – not forgetting Turnbull’s Port Botany’s Budget blunder (below). M-D has been a Fed football for Coalition and Labor Governments alike since 1988. Just a year ago, iA ruled it out – looking for a regional re-engineering (not that they’d know what this is – I did it but no one listened).

A re-engineering of the whole Illawarra/South West/West chain is required, not yet another ideological time warp. Illawarra hits a capacity limit with passenger services in 2020 (i.e. tomorrow) and coal in 2031 (i.e. next week).