The state government of Western Australia (WA) has announced a plan to consolidate seven of the eight regional port authorities into four to reduce unnecessary bureaucracy.
Under the port reform plan, which will be carried out in phases, the newly created Kimberley Ports Authority will represent the existing ports of Broome, Derby, Wyndham, Cockatoo Island, Koolan Island and the proposed port at James Price Point.
Western Australia state development minister Colin Barnett said the plan was developed after a comprehensive review of the governance of WA ports undertaken by the Liberal-National Government.
"The current port governance model has served the state well since it was introduced by the Court Coalition government in 1995, but the growing demand for WA commodities meant it was time to review this model to ensure we provide our ports with the most effective framework for the future," Barnett said.
Since 2000, WA’s merchandise exports value has increased by more than 300% – from $25.4bn to $112.2bn – and its share of merchandise exports rose from 26% to 46% of Australia’s exports.
The state currently has 21 ports and it is planning to build new ports at Barrow Island’s Gorgon project, Wheatstone, Oakajee, James Price Point and Anketell.
Pilbara Ports Authority will include Port Hedland and Dampier, the proposed new ports at Anketell and Ashburton North, as well as the ports at Cape Preston, Port Walcott, Varanus Island, Barrow Island, Airlie Island, Thevenard Island and Onslow.
Port of Geraldton, the proposed new port of Oakajee and the ports at Cape Cuvier and Useless Loop will come under the Mid-West Ports Authority, while the Southern Ports Authority will take over the ports of Bunbury, Albany and Esperance.
Western Australia’s Minister of Transport Troy Buswell said the timing and extent of amalgamations will depend on current contracts and the potential impact on port customers and industry.
"The creation of regional port authorities will ensure better planning and co-ordination of port development across the state and that our smaller ports can be adequately resourced," Buswell said.
The state will have an extensive consultation period with port customers and industry to create the first regional port authority in 2014.