Whitlam appointed chair of Newcastle Port Corp

With a decision still pending on the long-term lease arrangements for the Port of Newcastle, the New South Wales government has appointed Nicholas Whitlam as the Corporation’s chairman.

Mr Whitlam is also chair of Port Kembla and the Sydney Ports Corporation, recently steering both organisations through a similar privatisation process.

He says while the final decision on the 99 year lease in Newcastle is yet to be made, he expects the city can learn from the experiences of Port Botany and Port Kembla.

“Well there are lots of things we can learn yes,” he said.

“But Newcastle is different, it’s a riverine port, it’s a river port, neither of the other two are.

“Of course it’s predominantly, overwhelmingly a coal port which will speak to who might buy it, if it comes to that.”

A scoping study on the lease arrangements is due to be finished within weeks and Mr Whitlam says he expects there will be strong interest in managing the highly successful coal port.

“It’s a very well run organisation, there’s no doubt about that.

“There are good people at the top and all the way through and it’s a highly profitable enterprise, efficiently run.

“I suspect if the scoping study recommends the sale, a 99 year lease and the government accepts that, I suspect there’d be quite a queue of people interested in buying it.”

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