Nationals WA Member of Parliament and candidate for the seat of Geraldton Paul Brown MP, has today welcomed the full removal of the Port Expansion Project (PEP) charges as part of this year’s State budget.
“I am very grateful that both the Treasurer, and the Minister for Transport have acknowledged the merits of removing the PEP charge. This has been an on-going concern for port users for many years, and the financial relief will be welcomed,” Mr Brown said.
Expansion of the port, along with deepening the shipping channel and inner harbour was undertaken in 2003 after agreement between the Geraldton Port Authority, state government and port users. It was also expected that the introduction of iron ore exports through the port in the years following would drastically reduce the length of time that repayments would be required.
“The debt repayment model that was being used was grossly unjust to port users and would have ensured that in excess of $800 million was collected over the 30 year life of the original $106 million loan. This is money that is far better invested into the businesses of the port users, ensuring their long term viability and encouraging investment and employment growth.” Mr Brown said.
Mr Brown has also been calling on the Minister for Transport to support his calls to retire the remaining $66 million debt that is outstanding on the original re-development loan. The debt had remained outstanding due to the way the funds raised by the charge were allocated by treasury.
“Grain growers from across the Geraldton zone, and Mid West iron ore exporters had all expressed to me the need to have this charge removed in order to guarantee that jobs were not going to be lost and that the significant investments that had been undertaken within the port area were not compromised.” Mr Brown said.
“I’m very happy that I was able to help port users have a positive result with removal of this charge and the retiring of the remainder of the outstanding debt.”
“I also welcome the announcement of continuation of the royalty relief for magnetite production for a further 2 years. The long term viability of Karara Mining is very important for jobs at the mine, the businesses servicing Karara and through the service chain that will benefit Geraldton greatly.”
Mr Brown said he was deeply disappointed that other MP’s representing Geraldton chose not to support the very serious concerns of port users, and instead called for continuation of the charge for the full 30 years.
“This would have had a detrimental outcome on jobs and been devastating for affected families and businesses in Geraldton and the greater Midwest region.”
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