Perfect position may help us back up Botany

THE demise of coal handling is one important reason for Newcastle to have its own container terminal (“Boxing play”, Herald 18/12). However, a far more compelling reason for such a facility to be created is to ensure the state’s economic security. 

Imagine for one moment the closure of Port Botany for an extended period of time due to a major catastrophe and ask where containers could be handled. Melbourne, Brisbane or even Adelaide? They are limited by their own container handling capacity and inadequate support infrastructure such as road and rail to link with Sydney.

Perhaps this scenario is unlikely, but prudent management should consider it and the massive adverse impact it could have on the economy of NSW if it did.

Government thinking and leadership has been too focused on dollars and short-sighted in terms of the global threats that exist in today’s world, and the vulnerability of NSW to threats or acts of terror.

Newcastle can provide a viable backstop, and could have done so some years ago had the proposed container terminal been allowed to proceed. Port Kembla (the government’s plan) would require billions of dollars just to free up the land on which a terminal could be built.

The idea for a container terminal is not new. All that is required is a vision based on the economic needs of the Hunter Region and, even more importantly, the security and assurance that containers can be handled even if Botany falters.

The unfortunate reality today is that the potential site on the Newcastle waterfront to build a significant container handling has been adversely affected by recent developments.  A token facility is not the answer but a significant large capacity container terminal is.

Andrew Burgess, North Turramurra

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