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Alex is committed to government transparency and accountability; protecting the natural and urban environments, open space and Sydney’s unique heritage; retaining inner city social and affordable housing; the humane treatment of animals; improving transport options; and fairness and equality for the LGBTI communities.
 

Ports Assets (Authorised Transactions) Amendment Bill 2013

(Bill, Second Reading, Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament)

I make a brief contribution to the debate to oppose the Ports Assets (Authorised Transactions) Amendment Bill 2013. The bill enables the sale of the Port of Newcastle through a 99-year lease. This bill, which was introduced only today, is being unnecessarily rushed through this Parliament. By using its majority to override this process, the Executive is showing contempt for Parliament and the people we represent, which is wrong. 

The Port of Newcastle, which is the largest coal port in the world, generates massive income for this State. Members should be provided with information about whether it is in our economic interest to sell this asset to the private sector. A 99-year lease is essentially a freehold sale. Equally concerning is the potential environmental impacts of this sale that members have not been able to assess or discuss with environmental groups. Coal exports account for 90 per cent of the port's business.

I make a brief contribution to the debate to oppose the Ports Assets (Authorised Transactions) Amendment Bill 2013. The bill enables the sale of the Port of Newcastle through a 99-year lease. This bill, which was introduced only today, is being unnecessarily rushed through this Parliament. Members have not had an opportunity to consult with their communities or assess its potential impacts. Bills are meant to be laid on the table for at least five calendar days, and substantial legislation such as this should be laid on the table for longer. By using its majority to override this process, the Executive is showing contempt for Parliament and the people we represent, which is wrong.

The Port of Newcastle, which is the largest coal port in the world, generates massive income for this State. Members should be provided with information about whether it is in our economic interest to sell this asset to the private sector. A 99-year lease is essentially a freehold sale. Equally concerning is the potential environmental impacts of this sale that members have not been able to assess or discuss with environmental groups. Coal exports account for 90 per cent of the port's business. Through this port the State sends tonnes of dirty coal across the globe where it is burnt, which is contributing to dangerous climate change. It does not matter where coal is burnt because the emissions will still cause climate impacts across the globe. Will the sale increase pressure to further expand the port and drive more coal exports from new and expanded coalmines which will impact on communities? Will increased truck and train movements cause impacts on adjacent communities?

Will the port be required to publish information on its website and be subject to the provisions of the Government Information (Public Access) Act as it is now, so that environmental, community groups and academics can assess coal export data? For such a substantial transaction there should be full and thorough parliamentary and community scrutiny. That is not happening. There is no information available in support of the bill. I acknowledge that Labor was given a briefing on the bill but Mr Jamie Parker, The Greens member for Balmain, Mr Greg Piper, the Independent member for Lake Macquarie, and I were not given any information in advance of the bill's introduction. As there is no information in support of this bill I oppose it.


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