Regional producers are set to be major beneficiaries of the $1.2 billion expansion of the Port of Melbourne announced by Premier Ted Baillieu and Minister for Ports Denis Napthine on Tuesday.
Dr Napthine said the construction of a new container terminal at Webb Dock and the expansion of the existing container terminals at Swanson Dock would ensure the port could cater for increased levels of exports.
“Last financial year exports through the Port of Melbourne grew at a rate of 11 per cent compared with a 4.9 per cent increase in imports,” Dr Napthine said.
“To a large extent, Victoria’s primary producers can take the credit for this fantastic result
with the state’s total food and fibre exports rising by $1.3 billion to a total of $8.07 billion in 2010-11.
“We have seen massive increases in demand, particularly for our dairy, grain and meat products, from Asian countries such as India and China.
“This is extremely encouraging given the difficult global financial conditions we now face but it is important we take steps to maximise our chances to benefit from these opportunities.
“With greater volumes of these products now shipped to their destination in containers, it is absolutely critical that we act now to provide the additional capacity required to provide for further growth.
“We also need to ensure Victorian farmers have efficient and competitive access to international markets if they are to continue to grow and prosper,” Dr Napthine said.
Dr Napthine said the construction of a third container terminal would also see a more competitive environment at the Port of Melbourne, which would be an advantage for exporters.
“If we do not proceed with this development, the port would reach capacity and become congested which would add to the cost of exporting our agricultural produce,” Dr Napthine said.
The Port of Melbourne Expansion Project will see Webb Dock developed as a container terminal capable of handling at least 1 million twenty-foot equivalent units per year with additional infrastructure work to also increase capacity at Swanson Dock.
A major feature of the project will be a new road directly linking the Webb Dock terminal to the M1, providing greater efficiencies in logistics and removing port trucks from local streets.
The project will create 700 direct jobs and will indirectly support employment for a further 1900 people, many of whom will be located in regional Victoria.