An article in today's Financial Review, I can't give you a link because it is behind the firewall, suggests that competition for a 99 year lease over the Port of Newcastle is hotting up, with a likely winning bid of close to $700 million. There has been very little apparent opposition in Newcastle to the sale, in part because this is one case where Sydney has indicated that a reasonable proportion of funds from the sale will be reinvested in Newcastle.
It appears that I was a little too sanguine on this one. Regular commenter Greg wrote:
Actually Jim, there has been a fair amount of opposition in Newcastle. The port of Newcastle is substantially different to both Port Botany and Port Kembla in that the government would not be selling a business so much as a) a tax stream (ie. charges for use of the port facilities) and b) an awful lot of prime harbourside land which will severely restrict what can be done on and around the harbour for the next century. In particular, a container terminal was promised for the port a decade ago. That would have been logical to service the north of the state and help relieve congestion around Port Botany. This government has canned that and it is likely that the sale of the port will see hopes fade of a container terminal ever being built in Newcastle.
There is also resentment that the money for infrastructure in Newcastle is tied in to the port sale, yet the dollar figure is set in stone. If the port gets sold for closer to say $1bn (highly likely), Newcastle won't see a zac more than that already promised from the sale. The state has made that absolutely clear. I don't think that there are too many people who believe that it is a good deal for Newcastle. The sale of the port will benefit Sydney more than it does Newcastle.
I can see Greg's point. What do you think?