Hope quickly gave way to anger yesterday for more than two dozen Port Kembla activists as they watched NSW government MPs back plans to privatise their beloved port.
Members of Save Our Port travelled to Sydney with the hope of persuading NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell to reconsider his plans to lease the port for 99 years to private investors.
The group lined the public gallery seats to hear Labor MPs speak against privatising the port, but soon grew rowdy when Illawarra Liberal MPs argued in favour of the long-term lease of the site to private investors.
Listen to Noreen Hay address Parliament.
Several members of the group were given repeated warnings about interjecting during parliamentary debate. However, they failed to adhere to the strict "no noise" rules and were eventually ejected from the gallery before the MPs cast their final votes.
Outside Parliament, Save Our Port spokeswoman Alice Scott vowed not to give up the campaign, despite the disappointing 57-22 vote in favour of the privatisation.
"This is only the beginning of our campaign," Mrs Scott said.
"We are determined to keep it going. We're in it for the long haul."
Fellow Save Our Port activist Olive Rodwell slammed the lack of a feasibility or economic study into the port privatisation proposal.
She said the decision to forge ahead with privatisation flew in the face of what residents want.
"They are treating the whole issue with contempt - contempt for the people of the Illawarra and their wishes," Mrs Rodwell said.
Some of the group, along with Wollongong councillor Vicki Curran and Shellharbour councillor Peter Moran, met Treasurer Mike Baird before the debate to put forward a range of concerns.
Cr Curran also asked Mr Baird to attend a public meeting in Wollongong to discuss the port proposal. The request came on the back of an agreement reached at last week's council meeting to issue an invitation to government ministers to explain their reasoning behind privatising the port.
Cr Curran said Mr Baird had agreed to consider the request.
Mr Baird could not be reached for comment.