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Geelong Advertiser Opinion Piece - Bay West

New container port planning needed now so Geelong can plan for the future

Since the pioneering years of the 1830s and 1840s, the Port of Melbourne has been at the heart of commerce and trade in Victoria.

180 years after the first ships arrived, it has become one of the world's most significant container ports handling more than 7,200 containers and 1,000 new cars on average every day.

That's around $108 billion worth of trade every year. And as demand grows, our state's focus must increasingly be on securing Victoria's future port capacity.

As the Port of Melbourne grows from today's almost three million TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent Units) to a maximum capacity of perhaps 8 - 11 million TEUs, a new container port for Victoria will become a necessity.

The Committee for Geelong believes building the new port at Bay West clearly makes the most sense - but the decision-making process should begin right now.

The Committee strongly supports Infrastructure Victoria's advice that Bay West is the preferred location for a new container port for Victoria, because of its transport, land use, environmental and amenity advantages over alternative sites.

It is evident that much more informed work is required, but Infrastructure Victoria's advice is clear: "Bay West can initially handle overflow container capacity from the Port of Melbourne, and is also well suited to becoming Melbourne's future container port in the long term".

While Infrastructure Victoria's advice on Securing Victoria's Port Capacity states that detailed planning for a second container port should start around 2040, it emphasises that "land use planning actions to secure necessary second container port land and transport corridors need to be taken as soon as possible".

Deakin University's respected Centre for Supply Chain and Logistics also advances the view that "Bay West offers the opportunity to develop a world-class landside and maritime port system…"

Like Infrastructure Victoria, the Centre argues that "planning and corridor reservation for a second container port at Bay West needs to occur without delay to ensure Victoria's economic and social wellbeing is future-proofed".

"Relatively cheap land suitable for logistics related activities and construction of freight and intermodal terminals is readily available near Bay West," according to the Centre's investigation of a second container port for Melbourne.

The Committee for Geelong believes that all levels of Government should heed such advice and start planning now for a new Bay West container port.  It is vital that land use planning and infrastructure corridors are reserved now for all future options.

Such a significant project would go a long way to securing a strong and sustainable future for Victoria's second city, particularly with the prospect of thousands of construction and on-going jobs likely to be created.

On basic cost grounds, Bay West is the superior option: close to $13 billion to expand Hastings, compared to an estimate of up to $6.5 billion to develop Bay West.

The Bay West option also delivers important environmental advantages, including less impact on land and water biodiversity and ecosystems.

With Infrastructure Victoria and Deakin University's Centre for Supply Chain and Logistics both suggesting planning should start now, all levels of Government have an opportunity to seize the moment and make positive strategic decisions that will help to build and secure Geelong's future.



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