Port Kembla betrayed by Feds, NSW Ports & Business Chambers

Breaking-through misdirection

The Illawarra Business Chamber commissioned the SMART unit to write a report that was replete with errors:

1. Coal capacity deadline of 2030 in the South Coast Line is critical and receives insufficient attention. Reinforces the fatal City Dead “decision”

2. No reconciliation of M-D’s 60 trains per day Vs increase in car importing + containers + changes to wheat and coal. Headways between trains and trade peaks in Port receivals should be discussed explicitly.  Discussion is weak

a. We need a schematic showing current and future train movements as well as volumes to serve as a reference and blunder-checking aide

b. Reversion to Corrigan-like car import yards (Minto, now further west?) needs to be discussed as a strategic issue

3. There is a real chance that passenger trains cannot run on M-D due to capacity and scheduling conflicts ... [next point reserved]

5. Grade remains a worry, 3.3/100 (not 3/100) is limiting, remember Christie freight line from Enfield to Main West

  • (disagree with comment on p 28 - the SWIRL would be a predominantly dual track line except for the two major bridges and the 4 km tunnel …. This would pose some constraint on capacity but this constraint would not be considered limiting in the short to medium-term in our view.)

6. 6,000 commuter cars to switch to train  to be tested – unlikely

7. Valuation of time savings on p 33 is questionable (cf SGS re WestConnex)

8. BCA: is a ranking tool, not merit test, wrong name needs correction (BCA not CBA).

There is same failure of logistics economics here as at Botany (below).

Two NSW “projects” in the 2018 Fed Budget immediately failed economic blunder-checking tests, tripping up the PM badly, being

1. $400 million for the duplication of the Botany Freight Line where economic analyses, reported in The Conversation, 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” as already stated.The Western Sydney Business Chamber worked with Turnbull and Berejiklian:  


  • Turnbull calls his views variously as engineering, economics, logic and science. He decries ideologies which are stupid, and theory. Yet he has permitted the continuance in his agencies of a disease that is common in NSW, of backfilling on a capricious Ministerial announcement with an analytically weak “independent” report as retrospective “justification”. A specific example was iA trying to justify double-handling as a virtue at Moorebank while its chair was on iA’s Board. The City Deal was the biggest from which followed this sleight-of-hand:
  • 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 consortium wanted to use fast trains on. (They don’t mix.) 
  • 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 HK North West metro model which is failing and apparently deserves camouflage instead of correction

The State Business Chamber has refused to support ReviveBlue Mountains, the balanced-port strategy (here), and better options than metros and trams-replacing-buses.    

Ports Australia was right in its published case in saying that Berejiklian’s approach lacks clarity and is likely to raise ambiguity among the community and uncertainty for businesses looking to invest ... it does not translate to meaningful actions for the future of this State and its ports network.

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.

Not one agency has done the analysis that is required to re-plan Sydney’s thin port capacities to cover an end-demand some three times the total of their potentials.