The reform of the State’s ports reached a key milestone today with the introduction of legislation to consolidate seven regional port authorities into four overarching authorities.
The Ports Legislation Amendment Bill 2013 introduced to State Parliament will see four new regional port authorities established – Kimberley, Pilbara, Mid West and Southern – while Fremantle remains a stand-alone port authority.
Transport Minister Troy Buswell said the Bill would improve efficiency, reduce red tape, and maximise the capacity of the ports and would ultimately benefit communities.
“The strong and rapidly growing demand for Western Australian commodities and export capacity at our ports means we must have a model to ensure our ports have the most effective governance framework for the future,” Mr Buswell said.
“The current governance model has served the State well but times have changed and we need to reinvigorate how our ports operate.
“This reform will ensure the wealth generated by increased exports can be returned to the community through improved health, education, police, transport and other services.”
The new port authorities will deliver better planning and co-ordination of port development across the State, less bureaucracy, fewer boards and improved resourcing of smaller ports.
The Minister said WA’s ports had handled massive increases in the State’s exports over the past 13 years and were a significant part of the local economy.
Since 2000, the value of WA ports’ exports has quadrupled to $101billion in 2012-13 – an almost doubling of WA’s contribution to the nation’s total value, from 26 per cent to 44 per cent.
“These new authorities are crucial to their respective regional economies, as well as the State economy, and this reform follows extensive consultation with port customers and industry,” Mr Buswell said.
Features of the port reform includes:
– the removal of the legislative entitlement for commercial representation on port authority boards;
– establishing port community consultation committees, including local government, to facilitate public information sharing;
– the removal of uncertainty in the regulatory framework regarding 24-hour port operations.
“The Ports Legislation Amendment Bill 2013 will improve outcomes for customers and communities, and delivers on the Liberal National Government’s commitment to facilitate the development of new ports projects to meet WA’s future needs,” the Minister said.
The staged amalgamations are set to be implemented from July 1, 2014.
The ports reform is being implemented in two phases – the second phase will involve the transfer of control of 13 non-port authority ports to the new regional port authorities.
Further legislative changes will be required to give effect to the second phase of the reform.
Press Release, October 23, 2013