Exciting times ahead for Port Kembla.
Ports and Waterways Minister Joe Tripodi said the transfer of cars to Port Kembla would transform the port into the largest vehicle-importing hub in Australia.
“The relocation of vehicle, general and containerised trade from Sydney has seen Port Kembla’s Inner Harbour undergo a dramatic transformation over the past three years.
“More than $170 million has been spent on the port upgrade which includes new berths, a bridge over rail, road and rail realignment and new cargo-handling facilities,” Mr Tripodi said.
He said the relocation project had achieved building the new infrastructure on time and on budget, meeting the demands for car import-related logistics, capacity and efficiency.
According to an independent study, the port expansion over the next four years will create 1,300 new jobs and pump an additional $140 million each year into the Illawarra regional economy, with flow-on effects across NSW.
“This development creates significant opportunities, not only for the Port Kembla Port Corporation but also for the region and the state of NSW,” Mr Tripodi said.
About 270,000 new vehicles are expected to be imported through the port in 2008-09, with the figure expected to reach 295,000 within three years.
The project is also projected to lead to an additional 400 vessels visiting the port, bring the port total to close to 1,000 per year.
Minister for the Illawarra David Campbell said the project was real investment delivering real jobs and economic benefits for the region.
“The Port Corporation’s focus will be on developing and growing new business opportunities created by the trade diversification.
“This major infrastructure project has proven to be a catalyst by which new businesses have been attracted to the port,” Mr Campbell said.
Construction is expected to start in 2010 on the development of the port’s Outer Harbour, aiming to cater for any trade influx well into the future.
Wollongong MP Noreen Hay said the port’s master plan would provide for up to seven additional berths to be built and 52 hectares of land to be reclaimed.
“Increasing land and berth capacity will allow Port Kembla to accommodate future growth,” Ms Hay said.
“This will enable Port Kembla to capitalise on these new and exciting opportunities, securing the future of not only the port, but the region and the state.”