Australia’s Queensland State Government has invited bids for a 99-year lease on the Port of Brisbane.

Under the lease agreement, the government will retain ownership of the port’s land and infrastructure, and transfer the expense and risk of operating a commercial shipping port to the private sector.

Port of Brisbane treasurer Andrew Fraser said the lease is expected to be finalised by the end of the year.

Port users and their associates will be limited to a 20% stake in the $16bn privatisation plan.

During 2004-09, container volumes at the multipurpose cargo port grew by 7%, compared to 7% for Sydney and 4.6% for Melbourne.

The government earlier said it would exclude public boat harbours from the sell-off and transfer a large tract of state land at Northshore Hamilton to the state’s Urban Land Development Authority.