Port Kembla is the big winner after the Federal Court dismissed an ACCC case against the NSW Government and NSW Ports Pty Ltd.
That's the view of Regional Development Australia (RDA) Illawarra chief executive officer Debra Murphy.
Her optimism comes after the Port of Newcastle's ambition to develop a shipping container terminal and diversify away from coal was dealt a major blow in a Federal Court decision handed down on Tuesday.
The port has been pushing to become a sea freight hub for several years, but its efforts have been impeded by laws that limit container movements at the port.
It claims the restrictions were put in place by the NSW government to enhance the sale of Port Botany and Port Kembla.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) says the restrictions are illegal and anti-competitive and launched proceedings in the Federal Court.
But on Tuesday Justice Jayne Jagot dismissed the legal action.
Both the ACCC and Port of Newcastle expressed their disappointment in statements but did not indicate whether they would appeal the court decision.
In Justice Jagot's judgment released on Tuesday, she stated in part "the proposed development of a container terminal by the Port of Newcastle.... is speculative, far-fetched and fanciful and are not a real chance or real possibility".
Ms Murphy believes the judgment by Justice Jagot makes it clear that Port Kembla will be the second Container Terminal for NSW.
"This is a win not only for Port Kembla's growth, but importantly for freight efficiency and reliability of supply chains in NSW," she said.
"Port Kembla is a nationally significant trade gateway.
"Efficient road and rail connectivity between Port Kembla and Western Sydney is imperative.
"We need to plan now for the long term future container terminal and synergistic port-related growth industries."
A recent KPMG report found Port Kembla makes "the most sense" for a second container terminal. But it also found that terminal wouldn't be needed for at least another 20 years, with Port Botany expected to be able to handle the state's container traffic until at least 2040.
"This decision by the federal court paves the way to start the long term planning required to activate the Container Terminal at Port Kembla. We believe planning alone will be a 10 year journey - so it needs to begin now," Ms Murphy said.
"We look forward to working with the private sector and all three levels of government to achieve the highest and best use for valuable port-related industrial lands in the Port of Port Kembla precinct."
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