“For over 150 years the Port of Geelong has been an integral part of the economic and social fabric of our community and landscape.” Custodians of the Bay, A Brief History of Geelong Port published by GeelongPort 2018.

Geelong is a port city. The port is part of our unique identity connecting us to our region, our country and the world. The port is a valuable asset for our community, attracts long-term private investment, and provides long-term economic resilience to support us in challenging times.

Iconic symbols of Geelong, including Ford in the 1920s, the Geelong refinery in the 1950s and Alcoa in the 1960s, were based around the port and provided (and for the refinery, continues to provide) significant contributions to our culture and prosperity.

The port has also been a key trading hub for Victoria’s agriculture, initially driven by wool. It represents the key bulk export port for grain in Victoria and the importation of fertiliser. The supply chains servicing the port also support other agribusiness, notably the two barley malt houses adjacent to GrainCorp’s port terminal.

As the second largest port in Victoria, GeelongPort handles more than 11 million tonnes of product annually, is responsible for $7 billion of trade, over $700 million in total economic output and 1,800 jobs across Victoria.

In the past year we have seen a new breed of significant investment at the port, including the recent announcement of the Spirit of Tasmania’s 30-year agreement to move to Geelong and Boral’s $130 million, 25-year agreement regarding its cement plant which is currently under construction.

The Spirit of Tasmania alone is expected to generate up to 75 construction jobs over the two-year build program, whilst increasing tourism expenditure in the greater Geelong region by up to $174.1 million by 2029. In addition, there will be a number of new opportunities for regional hospitality, agribusiness, and logistics services.

What is clear is that the types of trade and businesses at the port are not static. The port has changed as Geelong’s and Victoria’s needs have changed. The port has been battered by economic storms and stood firm. It has continued to be a resolute friend in our economy and it’s time we returned the favour.

In light of the pandemic and the need for significant investment to stimulate the economy and create employment, the Committee for Geelong is pushing for the port to be a priority for the region. In the immediate term, there needs to be an integrated transport plan which includes freight and passenger connections. It is obvious we need to have this planning done now so we are ready for the Spirit of Tasmania in 2022. However, we also need to integrate the planning to include linkages for freight and passenger connections from the port to the CBD and from the CBD to the new North and West Growth areas. The need for strong east-west transport links for our long-term future is already being studied, but planning needs to be integrated with the needs arising from the port. If we are truly ‘clever and creative’ with the aim to design our best future, we need to come together and push for a large investment into these integral transport connections now.

It’s the perfect storm for significant investment into the port.

Jennifer Cromarty, CEO
Committee for Geelong

image courtesy: Aries Nha