THE operator of Port Botany and Port Kembla has obtained a Federal Court order for the Port of Newcastle to hand over any plans it has for a container terminal going back as far as 2012.
The order is one of three last week in the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's case against NSW Ports for an allegedly anti-competitive agreement with the NSW government that the ACCC says would "prevent or hinder" the development of a container terminal in Newcastle by making it uneconomic.
Although none of the parties involved in the case would comment on it, observers say the 2012 date is significant because it includes a time before the port was privatised, when the state-owned Newcastle Port Corporation had its own plans for a container terminal on the site.
The order allows NSW Ports to subpoena Port of Newcastle to provide by June 13 "all documents (including drafts) provided to or prepared by . . . shareholders, directors . . . or senior management . . . related to any proposals to develop a container terminal at . . . Newcastle . . . since July 16, 2012".
July 16, 2012, is the date that the "Mayfield concept plan" - used to guide development, including a container terminal, on the waterfront 90 hectares of the 152-hectare steelworks site - was approved by the planning department.
Newcastle Herald files record three proposals since that date for a Newcastle container terminal: the Anglo Ports-backed Newcastle Stevedores, which was negotiating with the state-owned port corporation; Dubai-based DP World, which ended a two-year exclusive arrangement last year with the privatised Port of Newcastle, and the current proposal (illustrated) by Port of Newcastle.
Of the other two orders, one gives NSW Ports until July 11 to file its defence, and the ACCC until July 30 to file its replies, before a case management hearing on August 2.
The third order continues a "confidentiality regime" set down on May 15, although that order revealed the names of documents to be kept confidential.
The new order adds "value impact information" - understood to be dollar value to Botany of the Newcastle restrictions - to the regime, restricting it to the state, the ACCC and Botany.
The third order also lists a range of "persons" who must not be involved in any "resolution or settlement of the proceedings", or any variation of the deeds covering the Botany and Newcastle leases.
Asked about this, a government spokesperson said: "There are no negotiations taking place between Treasury and any other parties with respect to the Port Commitment Deeds."
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