Illawarra Business Chamber chief Debra Murphy urged Wollongong City Council not to hold up the proposed Port Kembla outer harbour expansion, saying the project's approval should come before infrastructure investment.
Her comments followed a draft submission from council staff, which said a plan from the NSW Ports Consortium needed more detail.
The consortium hopes to handle 16 million tonnes of bulk cargo a year, up from 4.25 million tonnes at its first multi-purpose wharf.
But the council said this was not supported by current infrastructure and contingency plans were needed to keep roads and rail lines from becoming overloaded.
However, Ms Murphy described this as "nonsense", saying infrastructure would be driven by the type of products going in and out of the port and it needed to develop in tandem with the expansion.
"The market will determine what it needs - you can't just build infrastructure to its capacity and we know how hard it is to get government funding for projects," she said.
"While connectivity to the port is important, it shouldn't be that one thing comes before the other and you have to build road or rail infrastructure before the port development.
"I think the council has missed the point if they are going to behave this way, and we would urge them not to put the brakes on any development of the port."
The draft submission calling for more detail was discussed at Monday's meeting, but councillors had not voted on it before the Mercury's print deadline.