Prime Minister John Howard says he will not be moving to take control over state ports as they struggle to keep up with demand for coal exports.
Yet during the very same press conference, he claims….
“I would like cooperation to work, we all would, but if cooperation doesn’t work we have to look at some alternative”
So which is it to be Prime Minister? How would you prefer your Port? Straight up under Commonwealth control, or left in the hands of the all-Labor state camarilla you find so vexing in the political sense?
Infrastructure is important in support of any economy going through an accelerated growth phase, such as Australia’s resources sector is experiencing presently. It’s all well and good for private enterprise to dig the stuff out of the ground and arrange sale contracts, but if governments don’t provide the export infrastructure to enable those contracts to be satisfied, then booms can quickly become busts. Bannerman notes with interest that Howard actually expects private enterprise to chip into providing their own export infrastructure, yet just recently, we’ve been shown a rather classic example of what happens when private enterprise does just that.
Howard has been backing the Private-Public Infrastructure boondoggle for quite some time now, yet doesn’t seem to have actually achieved much in that direction, except for the creation of a lot of hot air. Industry have contributed much to their own infrastructure so isn’t it only fair that in a time when the Commonwealth are literally reaping in a golden harvest in export excises and corporate taxes, that it turn some of that wealth back into supporting the goose which is laying, while it still lays?
Bannerman lived and worked in Central North Queensland during the 1980’s. Sarina and Mackay to be precise. One of his major customers was the, then, Theiss-Peabody-Mitsui coal export operation at Hay Point, just north of Sarina. At that time, Hay Point and it’s neighbour, Dalrymple Bay Coal was jointly the largest coal loading terminal on the east coast. It had two coal loading jettys in 1986 and always seven to ten bulk carriers parked off-shore waiting to dock. Abbot Point, north of Bowen; Barney Point and RG Tanna facilities in Gladstone didn’t exist at that time. Coal mining in Queensland was really getting a go on, and has tripled output in the past twenty years, and yet still, Hay Point/Dalrymple Bay facilities are effectively the same as they were, twenty years ago. There’s more room to store more coal now, but what earthly use is that, if it can’t be loaded onto carriers for export? These days, so Bannerman understands, the number of carriers sitting off shore at Dalrymple Bay number in the twenties.
From the perspective of ensuring infrastructure is up-to-date and capable of sustaining economic growth through resources export, this federal government has much to answer for. For the sake of playing politics, Australia’s port facilities are suffering under the weight of export expectations without due attention being paid to their upkeep or expansion as needs be. Long past time the federal sphere lived up to its own rhetoric and adopted a co-operative demeanour when dealing with the all-Labor states on necessary capital expenditure items.