The Victorian Government and Opposition have come to terms on a deal which secures the privatisation of Australia’s biggest container port, the Port of Melbourne.
The Liberal-National Coalition of Victoria, which has been holding up legislation to privatise the port over a number of concerns, announced a deal had been reached on a number of key amendments on Wednesday morning.
Treasurer Tim Pallas confirmed the successful talks to reporters on Wednesday.
The bill clears the way for the state to sell the port on a 50 year, 30 day lease, rather than the originally-planned 70-year term, with compensation to be paid within 15 years of the lease’s commencement, rather than over the full term, as originally planned.
The financial sector has been readying itself for the sale of the port for some time, with interest reportedly coming from international and Australian suitors.
Infrastructure Partnerships Australia chief executive Brendan Lyon praised the sides for coming to an agreement.
“The bipartisan agreement and support for the port lease legislation is very good news,” Lyon said, “because it draws a line under the heavy politicisation of Victoria’s infrastructure.”
Lyon said the agreement would release funds needed to continue with the state’s significant infrastructure agenda, which includes the removal of 50 level crossings across the Melbourne road and rail network.
“Bipartisan legislation is important because it shows investors that Victoria has now returned to stable policy making and secure investment frameworks, which is all the more important given the East-West Link cancellation.”
Upon coming into office last year, Premier Daniel Andrews cancelled contracts relating to the construction of an East-West motorway in Melbourne, at a cost of between $400m and $1bn to taxpayers.
The premier defended the move at the time, criticising the former Liberal Government for committing to the contracts too early, and too close to an election.