Labor MPs wreck NSW Ports

OVERVIEW

Port planning has been in disarray since Peter Cox left Transport in 1984.

In 2012 Albanese and Berejiklian released simultaneous port & logistics plans which were laughable and led to my establishing my first website, thinkinglogiclogistics, named for a report I did in 2002 for the Shipping Council. I kept it going but no one listened and it is impossible to shake the Nats who are strangling federal and state budgets. So I wiped it.

In Newcastle an ex-BHP PR flack is pushing a long rail by-pass of Sydney (and the Government’s Botany Port, as if) in the most lunatic way possible, but that didn’t stop the City Council, Chamber of Commerce and RDA branch from entangling themselves and refusing to listen. That includes the Fed and State MPs.

Much the same in Wollongong where the Uni developed a Space Wars option called SWIRL. The Whitlam MP is now Assistant Treasurer and has a heavy load to bear.

Wollongong’s road and rail connections are vital to its employment and congestion contexts.  Coal traffic will exhaust rail capacity from 2030 and Heathcote MP Lee Evans rang alarm bells about commuter problems from 2021.

The Maldon-Dombarton has been a football for both Labor and Coalition Governments from 1988.  It can carry only 60 trains a day if completed as single-track but coal, wheat and minerals will fill that, so duplication is necessary.  5 million TEU in containers will require some 120 trains a day.

Turnbull gave “Faster Rail” funding to the Central Coast and said that the “Illawarra has to work harder” – which it isn’t doing.

The unthinkable happened under Stephen Kennedy.  A Federal Government which put $8 billion into the “inland rail bridge”, cut Port Kembla’s Moss Vale-Unanderra and Maldon-Dombarton links out of that national logistics chain as a classic blunder associated with the “Western Sydney City Deal”. 

The “North/South Rail” was to start at the Illawarra end of the South West extension from Glenfield.  That was the case, it seems, for 71 weeks of “negotiation” with 8 councils.  In the 72nd, the Turnbull Government turned that on its head with a metro line running from the North West down to Badgerys airport. 

That line cannot carry freight yet it is the main connection between the Illawarra and Inland Rail Bridge.

Port Kembla’s expansion cannot go ahead:  the N/S Rail will be another undermining of the Bradfield CityRail legacy, and another sign in Canberra of what Nick Greiner said in 2013, that few people understand the economics of logistics. 

Car imports also being kept on roads.  They are imported at Kembla and Chris Corrigan wanted to use Maldon-Dombarton to move them to his preparation years at Minto.  Craig Knowles was the local MP and NIMBYed that out of the park.

This is a ‘planning” issue which the Government is ignoring – why should those 100,000 trucks a year stay on Wollongong’s and Sutherland’s roads?

The Turnbull Government’s mistake was to base the “Western Sydney City Deal” on negotiations within the theoretical “Parklands City” that Lucy Turnbull’s Greater Sydney Commission has dreamed up for 40 years hence.  Incredibly, that excluded Parramatta and Blacktown and their 580,000 residents as well as Wollongong;  but included Wollondilly’s 40,000.

The big councils are disadvantaged by the changes, Wollongong obviously, Parramatta as the N/S connects at St Marys which is strange, and undermines the Parramatta CBD;  and Blacktown through its Eastern Creek holdings which are placed to contain Sydney’s main future intermodal terminal.  That’s where Pt Kembla’s containers would go.

Changes after Port privatisation disadvantage Port Kembla anyway as it is co-owned by the dominant Port Botany.  Botany will expand even though it has never met its railing target.  It seems to be prevented from working with Newcastle on a regional solution in line with Carr’s promises.

That means it is up to Wollongong City Council, local Members of Parliament and local corporates to face a non-partisan crisis which they seem to be under-estimating as they are cynical about the prospects of success so don’t even try.

$15.9 billion from poles and wires became $100 billion in unfunded promises within the eastern city – you know, the ones that received their services “free” in past decades!

Canberra’s support for Berejiklian’s Sydney projects saw a lack of due diligence, a blow-out in costs, and poor value for money:  $20 billion on the Bankstown Metro will serve 5% or less of population growth over 15 years, and none beyond that. 

Trams costing billions are replacing buses, and a cheap Northern Beaches scheme has been replaced by a theoretical uber-tunnel from Rozelle to Allambie Heights.

The Coalition heartland of the Manly-Warringah Peninsula will not enjoy the prospect of a series of Bondi Junctions and Chatswoods replacing their villages.  Lucy Turnbull planned 67 high-rises in Campsie alone which I killed through the local mastheads but Perrottet and Hong Kong are coming back now, in 2022..

All this, including the City Deal blunder, is simply not good enough, Prime Minister Albanese.

  • Newcastle
  • Kembla – Labor MP – “get f’ed Robert and leave me alone

NEWCASTLE

There is no market imperative behind Newcastle’s claim.  There is no strategy to build a political coalition of regional interests Vs waste in the metropolis, including the pernicious effects of the Western Sydney City Deal.  There, the WS Business Chamber cannibalised its regional buddies without them even realising.

The City was distracted by the despicable Mike Baird super-tax clause and by claims that Newcastle can replace Port Botany and Port Kembla (both owned by the State Government) through a railway by-pass of Sydney’s great economic mass to be provided by the same State Government.  Dream on. 

The main problems facing Newcastle still include:

  • Soft regard for Labor-held Hunter Federal and State electorates Vs hard preference to Liberal MsP on the Central Coast, and unskilled advisors in the agencies and Offices, producing a diversion of funds to Faster Rail which will reduce freight priorities at a time when both Illawarra and Hunter interregional lines are under pressure already`
  • Incompetence in the regional business chambers and councils, with the Hunter relying on theoretically separating freight and passengers through the mythical by-pass, Wollongong combining the traffics through a rail extension that will have grossly insufficient capacity, and Western Sydney twisting urban budgets so as to sterilise freight via Port Kembla and the South West’s commuters whose mayors were bought-off by the PM using a Baird stratagem
  • Hunter’s acceptance of the Port/Deloittes approach without independent verification
  • In-built State bias towards Ports Botany and Kembla and Cooks River IMT which are State-owned as is Enfield;  Moorebank being “connected” and Kembla being closer to Sydney and more easily connected to Inland Rail (other things being equal)
  • Ignorance of realpolitik factors in city, regional State and Federal affairs, the carpe diem factor
  • Small market yield from Newcastle’s catchment together with cynicism about the Port’s claim that it will spread over terminals on the Inland Rail

The Berejiklian and Albanese administrations produced  Freight & Ports Strategies in 2013 which were widely criticised then, and more recently in submissions to the next cycle of the same thing.  TfNSW received submissions up to near the end of March 2018 and it is safe to assume that recent governmental directions will not be reversed in the final version.  Already the Turnbull Government has backed-up its City Deal blundering (analysed below) with a $100 million “business case” by two cronies (a “PR brochure”) of the St Mary’s metro that sterilises Port Kembla.  The amount is a disgrace (the equivalent of 83 consulting-years)  and we will find out who benefits;  but the act was unprofessional and unsustainable. 

The freight and ports communities cannot rely on the submissions they put in as none addressed three especially critical challenges:  the true port hierarchy, the lack of transport support, and failures of strategic resource budgetting.  The same is true of the City Council and regional business chamber.

The Port of Newcastle put in a strong submission based on Deloittes’ analysis of regional logistics savings and reducing pressure on Port Botany, but relied on a long-term public campaign by the former BHP media flack Greg Cameron, who aims to

… privately fund a rail freight bypass of Newcastle and Sydney by building a container terminal at the Port of Newcastle and railing containers and general freight for the Sydney market. 

Cameron has included the replacement of both Ports Botany and Kembla by PON.  Neither Deloittes nor PON advocated the bypass specifically in recent documents (TfNSW has for at least 5 years) but have made it clear that they rely on its capacity and separation between freight and passenger.

The construction of a terminal depends on reversal of the Baird super- tax but on so much more as well.  Most critically, it depends on shipping and transport logistics, manoeuvring around corrupted State policies (not just the tax), and fundamental breakdowns in the Federal approach to Inland Rail.  The harsh reality is that Port Kembla’s coal stakeholders/owners are sending their product to Newcastle due to price disparities;  while the closure of BHP’s steel facilities is mooted (with more notice than Newcastle received). 

Mr Cameron reported these two quotes via The Newcastle Herald:

28 July 2012:

But Mr Baird said yesterday Port Kembla was found to be the most cost-effective location ”for any potential future overflow of containers from Port Botany”, based on an assessment of the NSW freight network and its proximity to businesses and warehouses in south west Sydney.

Mr Baird made no mention of a ”cap on numbers” at the Port of Newcastle including the economic implications for northern NSW of maintaining the Port Botany monopoly over container movements.

3 August 2012:

In truth, the writing has been on the wall for some time before now, but in coming to Newcastle to deliver those words, Mr Gay was saying clearly and absolutely that Newcastle had lost its place in the planning queue to Port Kembla as the overflow port for the state’s main container facilities at Port Botany.

The construction of a terminal depends on reversal of the Baird super- tax but on so much more as well.  Most critically, it depends on shipping and transport logistics, manoeuvring around corrupted State policies (not just the tax), and fundamental breakdowns in the Federal approach to Inland Rail.  The harsh reality is that Port Kembla’s coal stakeholders/owners are sending their product to Newcastle due to price disparities;  while the closure of BHP’s steel facilities is mooted (with more notice than Newcastle received). 

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”.

This is an op-ed published in the Newcastle Herald in 2018:

Recent developments have put a Newcastle container terminal further away than ever.  Bob Carr, Mike Baird and now its business community have left the Hunter economy wondering “what next?”.

The State Government’s update to its freight and ports Plan says that Newcastle has no impediment to servicing its own catchment, which the Port of Newcastle put theoretically at about 600,000 twenty-foot equivalent containers (TEU) a year, almost half of NSW’s containerised exports and almost one-third of containerised imports.

Their map showed the extent of the PON claim based on its Deloittes Report – including Parkes and part of Queensland.  The volumes were predicted to grow by about 90 per cent up to 2050.

The Plan also allows for Port Botany to be the monopoly until 2040 or thereabouts, switching then to Port Kembla (which is within reach of the blue section of the map);  and it promotes Parkes on the Inland Rail in parallel as it is “located within 12 hours by road or rail to 80 per cent of Australia’s population”.  Parkes has the support of Linfox and other haulier and rail majors.

In short, while a container precinct is being created at Mayfield, it might as well be used for a waste recycling centre or bottling plant – or whatever.  Newcastle’s possible catchment has shrunk dramatically.

This shows up the defects in the Port of Newcastle’s submission to Transport for NSW.   PON relied on a long-term public campaign to

… privately fund a rail freight bypass of Newcastle and Sydney by building a container terminal at the Port of Newcastle and railing containers and general freight for the Sydney market. 

PON has refused to adopt a smarter approach.  It is about to release yet another Port Masterplan that has no legitimate land infrastructure component.  The Regional Business Chamber was pursuing the Port’s own preference of that long rail by-pass of Sydney.  It was chaired by an executive of the Australian Rail Track Corporation which would build it.

That was always out of scale with the environmental damage, economic logic, and inevitable opposition of a State Government of either hue.  Why would they negate their own Port and rail depots?

That option has gone and the Port is refusing to pay for the copyright over an alternative route which is via Parkes and would require a different commercial negotiation.

Even DP World walked away and the Port’s claim that others are interested is not substantiated.  All governments pay lip service to the importance of planning the logistics industry. 

PON cannot breakthrough in the confused state of Sydney’s unfunded political promises.  In 2013-4 NSW’s Mike Baird had privatised the Botany and Kembla Ports as an entity, and Newcastle separately.  He imposed a secret super-tax on possible Newcastle container operations which ACCC is now reviewing.  The chair of Port Kembla’s Board was appointed chair of the State Port regulator; and as Kembla was managed from Sydney, opposition to Botany was suppressed from both north and south ends.

In 2015 the Botany monopoly issued a Masterplan which made explicit the intent to contain commercial operations within its property portfolio. 

That included intensifying operations at the Enfield IMT which had seen an inquiry by the eminent Hon Milton Morris twelve years earlier.  He had recommended (as was then approved) shaving some one-third off the proposed capacity because of trucking impacts in neighbouring suburbs. 

That is called a “social contract” which was a concept affirmed by Baird during the greyhounds chaos and by a recent Infrastructure Australia panel that was chaired by the CEO of the Botany/Kembla monopoly.  It was not surprising that the Panel recommended strengthening monopoly rights.

Newcastle’s cruise and other terminal plans are looking as vulnerable to economic blunder-testing as had been Kembla’s where the resulting port development levy has seen the port owners send their coal trains to Newcastle to avoid their own levies.

The certainty that is needed for sustainable investment is as far away as ever.  “Group thinking” requires bringing-in outside expertise.

The Federal Government lost two opportunities to show it realises the dreadful blunder it committed with the WS City Deal.

  • On 16 December, its Mid-Year Economic and Financial Outlook failed to “repair” the two Budget 2018 errors, thereby concreting the gap in credibility between promoting trade and suffocating ports and logistics chains. The other was simply allowing Parliament to rise without even mentioning a national crisis.
  • On 11 December PON released a report (part of which it wrote) by AlphaBeta which claimed Australia’s best container terminal (in prospect) would deliver massive savings to a nominally-reduced catchment. There was no recognition of economic and political realities like lack of land transport connections and sub-scale diseconomies.
  • On 24 Sept Port of Newcastle praised the Government’s Newcastle Metro Plan, thinking “PON’s Master Plan 2040 highlights a suite of projects that also align with the goals of the Metropolitan Plan for Greater Newcastle, including Newcastle Container Terminal”. Not so, it’s a change in a map label and a “we’ll work together” – the Freight Strategy putting an end to that.
  • PON keeps us amused with ongoing misstatements which avoid reality. Updates appear on the PON tab but on or about 25 September they posted an website image of a “roll-on-roll-off” vessel entering the Port. Unfortunately it is a passenger ship, are they proposing to give all passengers a go-cart?

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.
  • 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 (above).

I worked hard with the then CEO of the Port to boost Newcastle’s performance.  Rossely’s and my influence has been extinguished in history, leaving:

  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 http://www.thinkinglogicallogistics.info)
  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

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”).

This was sent to then Minister Truss in September 2018:

Sequence:

  1. Departure of CEO at the time of Deloittes’ exposure, with Green only saying “don’t read too much into it
  2. 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
  3. My advising ARTC of my scheme under strict copyright terms in April ‘18, and attempts to engage regional stakeholders similarly (with brief summaries)
  4. Green then releasing an unamended Deloittes in Sydney, reported in the media without journalistic nous
  5. Business Chamber, chaired by the same ARTC executive, pushed long bypass of Sydney (only) in its submission to TfNSW
  6. My advising Green I no longer supported him but did Newcastle
  7. My requesting Board consideration of my case for a better approach that is professional in socio-political and economic dimensions, and receiving no reply
  8. My establishment of a pro-improvement website including forensic rejection of Green’s approach
  9. Departure of DP World as the prospective container client and investor
  10. 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
  11. Strengthening of my website in terms of the defects of Deloittes and Green’s approach including “PON cannot win if it continues current directions
  12. 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
  13. 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):

Robert 

Green:

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 paid for 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] openly like 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 

Roy 

  1. 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, sponsorees 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.

Robert

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 www.thinkinglogicallogistics.info).

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

  • 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
  • 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!

  • 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]
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • On our behalf:  rubbish, he refuses to pay for his company’s interests, he is illogical
  • A very positive announcement:  of successful theft of IP?  His own resignation?  Maersk?  NSW Government faux-promises?  Better artist’s impressions?
  • Join the discussion:  more of the above, rubbish, the normal sequence is to table quality work before consultation which also would show competence and leadership
  • 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.]

I ask you to (1) take this seriously and (2) prevent further transgressions as the Turnbull Government left a shameful track record of duplicity and ineptitude in NSW freight and port planning, which I am determined to repair before the economic and community damage is permanent.

KEMBLA

In 2008 the then chair of Port Kembla Nick Whitlam welcomed PM Rudd’s infrastructure funding promises by seeking $1.2 billion to match Botany’s container capacity and $300 million to finish Maldon-Dombarton.  Adele Ferguson wrote it up as busting “the cosy duopoly between Patrick and Dubai Ports (formerly P&O ports)”.  His hopes were to be dashed as, underneath all, is a Cargo Cult reality shared across the industry and especially Ports Australia and Botany and Newcastle.

The SWIRL Report was produced in August 2017 in the context of the Federal offering to provide business case funding for selected regional rail track improvements.  Illawarra First’s notion was to add commuting and logistics capacity for inter-regional movements between the coast, the SW and Greater West via completion of the Maldon-Dombarton (M-D) rail link.  Yes, same link unrequited.

A classic example is the polarity between coal freight projects and infrastructure projections.  These passages are from UOW’s SWIRL report, with the contrast between the Governments’ relying on the South Coast line but sabotaging the main alternatives, Maldon-Dombarton and Moss Vale-Unanderra:

the freight volume on the South Coast Line was 9,566 kilotonnes in 2011 and is estimated will double over the next 20 years (NSW Freight and Ports Strategy, 2013). However, it is expected there will be no spare capacity on the line from 2030 (based on ACIL Tasman’s demand forecast).

As freight shares the South Coast Line with passenger trains, freight traffic is not allowed to use the line during the peak commuting hours. Also, the rail line is basically set up for passenger trains, which makes it difficult to secure longer train paths for freight trains. In addition to these limitations, the expected growth in the passenger demand and the introduction of the southern Sydney rapid trains project will provide further boundaries for freight, especially more difficulties for freight train paths availability. Meeting the future demand of freight will require efficient solutions to manage these limitations.

iA had a different rationale in early 2017:

Modelling provided by the proponent indicates that there is expected to be adequate freight capacity on the Illawarra Line and Moss Vale to Unanderra Line to meet demand until 2031. From 2031, proposed changes to the operation of the Illawarra line, with the potential introduction of rapid transit services to Hurstville, may introduce new capacity constraints. The timing of these proposed future changes would be a significant factor in determining how and when future additional freight rail capacity to and from Port Kembla would be required.

The ”rapid transit to Hurstville” reflects Berejiklian’s haphazard metromania.  She announced it along with Bankstown only to find out the interconnections would work only with difficulty if at all.  This is called “poor pre-planning” and has been roundly criticised by Schott’s Commission of Audit, Grattan’s analyses of NSW’s “negligent” approach, iA’s own analyses, and SGS Economics’ studies of WestConnex for the City of Sydney, inter alia.  (See comments on the Calfas Panel report, above.)

There are four other issues which indicate the need for a re-look:

  1. The PM gave the Faster Trains money to the Central Coast and explicitly said the Illawarra needs to work harder if it is to get any.  The $ millions given to CLARA under that program was a PM’s captain’s call on dud ideological grounds.  It will be tested as corrupt and/or incompetent (as the $400 m to Botany railing is already), with the question, why wasn’t it spent wisely – and what sort of cadre advises him given the gap between mouth and reality?  He has no escape from the arrow labelled “$100 million allocated to a lucky consultancy” for a few weeks work
  2. The UOW SWIRL study underestimated the significance of coal capacity issues and of the difficulty of scheduling passenger services if M-D is built as planned.  The progress of the second Airport is relevant also but see the failure of the West and St Marys Metros and of the City Deal
  3. The PM and Premier made a massive mistake in appeasing the metro lobby in the form of an erratic outcome of the WS City Deal.  If that “decision” is allowed to stand, Port Kembla will lose forever both Moss Vale-Unanderra and M-D connections to Western Sydney and the Inland Rail bridge
  4. There has been a long-term misunderstanding of the incompatibilities of logistics mixed with passenger services and of the logistics needs of Greater Sydney.  Up to two-thirds of Sydney’s containers will need to be collected at Parkes; while Newcastle and Port Kembla will have to be built-up to handle say 5 million TEU per annum each if possible.  SWIRL and PON reflected both misunderstandings.

Comments, in short, on SWIRL are:

  1. Coal capacity deadline of 2030 in the South Coast Line is critical and receives insufficient attention.  Counteracts the fatal City Deal “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.
    1. We need a schematic showing current and future train movements as well as volumes to serve as a reference and blunder-checking aide
    2. 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
  4. Should focus on high-voltage AC electrification and link to Goulburn and to Parkes
  5. Grade remains a worry, 3.3/100 (not 3/100) is limiting, strongly agree with duplication but take it to four and extend it from Maldon to Werrington (?) and 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.)

  1. 6,000 cars to train switch of commuters to be tested – unlikely
  2. Valuation of time savings on p 33 is questionable (SGS re WestConnex)
  3. BCA:  is a ranking tool, not merit test, wrong name needs correction (BCA not CBA).

The Labor MP, whom I had known well for 30 years, was frustrated with my criticisms of SWIRL and his last email to me was short:  get f’ed Robert and leave me alone.

The harsh reality is that Port Kembla’s coal stakeholders/owners are sending their product to Newcastle due to price disparities;  while the closure of BHP’s steel facilities is mooted (with more notice than Newcastle received).

I am grateful to Newcastle’s Greg Cameron for these two quotes via The Newcastle Herald:

reported on 28 July 2012:

But Mr Baird said yesterday Port Kembla was found to be the most cost-effective location ”for any potential future overflow of containers from Port Botany”, based on an assessment of the NSW freight network and its proximity to businesses and warehouses in south west Sydney.

Mr Baird made no mention of a ”cap on numbers” at the Port of Newcastle including the economic implications for northern NSW of maintaining the Port Botany monopoly over container movements.

And reported on 3 August 2012:

In truth, the writing has been on the wall for some time before now, but in coming to Newcastle to deliver those words, Mr Gay was saying clearly and absolutely that Newcastle had lost its place in the planning queue to Port Kembla as the overflow port for the state’s main container facilities at Port Botany.

The more recent Calfas national Freight and Ports Panel Inquiry accepted such defects – it is barely relevant to NSW’s Port crisis and the mooted “NSW Productivity Commission” will be irrelevant – but it agreed with the thrust of the current work, that

A National Freight & Supply Chain Strategy presents an opportunity for a true national approach to freight that transcends borders and transport modes and creates the environment to deliver significant productivity, safety and environmental reforms.  We encourage everyone in the industry to participate in the development of the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy.

Regional leadership is needed to ensure Newcastle’s legitimate expectations are achieved but the incredibly powerful post-BHP Newcastle spirit of the 1990s is nowhere to be seen under the arrogant burghers on the Regional Chamber and RDA.

The Berejiklian and Albanese administrations produced  Freight & Ports Strategies in 2013 which were widely criticised then, and more recently in submissions to the next cycle of the same thing.  TfNSW received submissions up to near the end of March 2018 and it is safe to assume that recent governmental directions will not be reversed in the final version.  Already the Turnbull Government has backed-up its City Deal blundering (analysed below) with a $100 million “business case” by two cronies (a “PR brochure”) of the St Mary’s metro that sterilises Port Kembla.  The amount is a disgrace (the equivalent of 83 consulting-years)  and we will find out who benefits;  but the act was unprofessional and unsustainable. 

The freight and ports communities cannot rely on the submissions they put in as none addressed three especially critical challenges:  the true port hierarchy, the lack of transport support, and failures of strategic resource budgetting.  The same is true of the City Council and regional business chamber.

No involved agency has developed a potentially-successful holistic economic, political and employment strategy.  NSW and iA summaries and analyses are fanciful in a State which is more than $100 billion under-funded against inner-zone promises, with a crashing failure of the transport/housing efforts of the Greater Sydney Commission. 

Deloittes Gaps

The Port of Newcastle commissioned several consultancies designed to boost its commercial prospects, including

  1. Deloittes – “NSW Container and Ports Policy” (March 2018):  task to establish an economic case to divert traffic from Port Botany to PON on the basis of a large “footprint” through regional NSW, material reductions in truck traffic in Sydney, and reductions in logistics costs.  It is referenced here as “Deloittes”
  2. Lycopodium – “Container Transport Economics Study” (2016, not sighted).

Deloittes had done other consultancies such as The NSW Economy in 2031-32 (2012) and Shaping Future Cities – designing Western Sydney (2018) – a particular target for a separate critique, the City Deal’s N/S Rail debacle.  They prepare NZ’s port annual data reports.

Deloittes does not contain a SWOT or critical issues matrix and its Executive Summary does not mention Port of Newcastle lease and planning permissions, the same for Port Botany in its specific context, or of known criticisms of reports it referenced including their own analysis of the Northern Sydney Freight Corridor.  The factors of importance to Deloittes are shown in the left column, with comments in the right:

Dr John Goldberg contested their treatment to the extent that there are no cost savings (from moving freight from road to rail) and “By correct use of the NSW Treasury guidelines, my audit showed that the real benefits were only about one-fifth those obtained by Deloitte”.  See Jenny Wiggins, “NSW rail benefits overstated by flawed analysis”, AFR 22 Jan ’14.

The Berejiklian and Albanese administrations produced  Freight & Ports Strategies in 2013 which were widely criticised then, and more recently in submissions to the next cycle of the same thing.  TfNSW received submissions up to near the end of March 2018 and it is safe to assume that recent governmental directions will not be reversed in the final version.  Already the Turnbull Government has backed-up its City Deal blundering (analysed below) with a $100 million “business case” by two cronies (a “PR brochure”) of the St Mary’s metro that sterilises Port Kembla.  The amount is a disgrace (the equivalent of 83 consulting-years)  and we will find out who benefits;  but the act was unprofessional and unsustainable. 

The freight and ports communities cannot rely on the submissions they put in as none addressed three especially critical challenges:  the true port hierarchy, the lack of transport support, and failures of strategic resource budgetting.  The same is true of the City Council and regional business chamber.

The Port of Newcastle put in a strong submission based on Deloittes’ analysis of regional logistics savings and reducing pressure on Port Botany, but relied on a long-term public campaign by the former BHP media flack Greg Cameron, who aims to

… privately fund a rail freight bypass of Newcastle and Sydney by building a container terminal at the Port of Newcastle and railing containers and general freight for the Sydney market. 

Cameron has included the replacement of both Ports Botany and Kembla by PON.  Neither Deloittes nor PON advocated the bypass specifically in recent documents (TfNSW has for at least 5 years) but have made it clear that they rely on its capacity and separation between freight and passenger.

Mr Cameron reported these two quotes via The Newcastle Herald:

28 July 2012:

But Mr Baird said yesterday Port Kembla was found to be the most cost-effective location ”for any potential future overflow of containers from Port Botany”, based on an assessment of the NSW freight network and its proximity to businesses and warehouses in south west Sydney.

Mr Baird made no mention of a ”cap on numbers” at the Port of Newcastle including the economic implications for northern NSW of maintaining the Port Botany monopoly over container movements.

3 August 2012:

In truth, the writing has been on the wall for some time before now, but in coming to Newcastle to deliver those words, Mr Gay was saying clearly and absolutely that Newcastle had lost its place in the planning queue to Port Kembla as the overflow port for the state’s main container facilities at Port Botany.

The construction of a terminal depends on reversal of the Baird super- tax but on so much more as well.  Most critically, it depends on shipping and transport logistics, manoeuvring around corrupted State policies (not just the tax), and fundamental breakdowns in the Federal approach to Inland Rail.  The harsh reality is that Port Kembla’s coal stakeholders/owners are sending their product to Newcastle due to price disparities;  while the closure of BHP’s steel facilities is mooted (with more notice than Newcastle received). 

Wollongong and and Newcastle communities refused to listen on the destructive force of Kennedy’s City Deal:

The City Deal was the biggest Turnbull deceit designed to “protect” his wife but did the reverse,  from which followed this sleight-of-hand:

  1. 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.) 
    1. 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
    1. Badgerys airport will not have high-quality transit services and very real options were deliberately sterilised without election legitimacy or process probity

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.   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). That that is so is true is demonstrated in the following sectional texts.

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”.

No involved agency has developed a potentially-successful holistic economic, political and employment strategy.  NSW and iA summaries and analyses are fanciful in a State which is more than $100 billion under-funded against inner-zone promises, with a crashing failure of the transport/housing efforts of the Greater Sydney Commission.

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