The Port of Newcastle contributes almost $1 billion to the Hunter annually, a new economic analysis shows.
The analysis, conducted by HoustonKemp Economists, found the port's direct and flow-on contribution to Australia's gross domestic product was almost $1.5 billion.
It also underpins almost 9,000 full-time equivalent jobs nationally.
Despite that, there has not been a significant increase in the port's economic contribution in recent years even though port trade has gone up.
The Port of Newcastle is seeking to have state government penalties on container movements at the port lifted in order to boost its economic output.
"While we are doing the same thing, we are not going to see a material increase in the port's economic contribution to the economy. That is why we are pursuing diversification as a priority - underpinning economic success for future generations. The current economic contribution may be capped, but the future potential is unlimited," a Port of Newcastle spokesman said.
The HoustonKemp analysis, using 2018/19 financial year data, also found that port activity generates:
* About 5,700 jobs across the Lower Hunter, $475 million worth of household income and gross regional product worth almost $1 billion
* 7,800 direct and indirect jobs across NSW, as well as boosting direct and indirect household income by $629 million and contributing $1.2 billion to gross state product
* 9,000 direct and indirect jobs across the country, $736 million worth of direct and indirect household income, and makes a $1.5 billion economic contribution
It is estimated the proposed Newcastle Multi-purpose Deepwater Terminal would generate more than 15,000 direct and indirect jobs and contribute $2.5 billion to the national economy.
The terminal, which would attract $1.8 billion of private investment, is among three projects that the Committee for the Hunter has identified as top infrastructure priorities for the region.
HoustonKemp's analysis shows the design and construction of the terminal would create 9,300 jobs and $1.3 billion to the Lower Hunter alone.
The figures do not include the broader economic benefits created through increased supply chain efficiency and making internationally-trading businesses in NSW more competitive in global markets
Port of Newcastle CEO Craig Carmody said, while it was difficult to quantify all the ways the Port contributed to social and economic wellbeing, the analysis helped highlight the importance of Australia's largest east coast port to the nation's economic prosperity.
"HoustonKemp has applied its complex economic methodology to quantify the scale of the port's contribution in our region and the nation," Mr Carmody said.
"For every dollar generated by port activity in Newcastle, there is a total contribution of $2.62 to Australia's GDP."
Mr Carmody said the Port had a critical role to play in providing accessible, efficient and cost-effective supply chains that underpinned local jobs, businesses and the region's prosperity.
"This is especially critical as we do our bit to help the economy recover from the effects of COVID-19," he said.
"We look forward to the Hunter having an uncontained future and being an attractive place for private investment.
"Port projects started today will be critical in the decades ahead, ensuring we can diversify the economy and remain internationally-competitive and prosperous."
Newcastle state MP Tim Crakanthorp called on the state and federal government to support the container terminal project.
"To say 'there's no time like the present' is now more compelling than it has ever been," he said.
"With record high unemployment due to COVID-19, imagine the employment opportunities that kind of cash spend could unlock both at the port and in the ripple effect through the region.
"Why would any government stand in the way of $1.8 billion of private sector investment in vital infrastructure during a global pandemic?
"I will continue to advocate for the government support this critical investment in the Newcastle and Hunter region.
No one here is dreaming big. This is all achievable - what is it going to take for those south of the Hawkesbury to realise this?"
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