The O’Farrell government has had a pretty poor couple of months when it comes to management of Port Kembla Harbour, an asset that for decades has helped bring prosperity to this region.
First the Mercury revealed that 600,000 tonnes of soil from the toxic Barangaroo site in Sydney would be shipped to Port Kembla and used in the outer harbour expansion.
The government was embarrassed when the first shipment of soil was later found to be contaminated with deadly asbestos.
Then the government outraged many in the region by announcing it intended to flog off Port Kembla on a 99-year lease at a cost of $500 million with a paltry $100 million from the sell-off coming to the Illawarra.
Now we are told the government is planning to invest $700 million expanding the port.
For the government to then turn around and lease the port for $500 million is simply staggering and brings into question its business nous.
We agree with South Coast Labour Council secretary Arthur Rorris that the proposed port expansion would be ‘‘terrific’’ and would most likely increase its profit-making capacity, but it can only benefit the region by remaining in public hands.
And all of this on a day that the NSW Education Minister showed the government was not fair dinkum about education by slashing $1.7 billion from the budget with deep cuts to TAFE, administrative staff and a funding freeze on independent schools.
Wouldn’t it have been far smarter to keep the port in government hands and spend some of the profits on educating our children?