The Port of Sydney is considered by many individuals
to be essential to the economic recovery of CBRM. In the past, the
assets in the harbour have largely been tied up by single users,
and we heard many examples of how it was not possible to use the
SYSCO and DEVCO wharves for other products when steel making and
coal export were their primary role.
CBRM has not had the benefit of a true “port authority”
(a Federally sponsored port coordination and management model, such
as the Halifax, Montreal and Toronto harbours). Nor has it had the
benefit of a federal package to establish a port corporation and
refurbish a harbour asset such as the Strait Area Port Corporation
(this is because the federal wharf in Sydney had just been refurbished
prior to sale).
CBRM has a Port Corporation largely comprised of local business
people with the backing of the Board of Trade and CBRM Council.
The Port Corporation owns the Municipal wharf in downtown. Most
of its members see the role of the Port Corporation as dictating
how the port assets are managed, marketed and coordinated. They
also seek to own the port assets, review business deals and lease
arrangements on the wharves, and collect a tariff for goods moved
through the harbour. Many of the owners of the port assets consider
the Port Corporation to be not sensitive to their particular business
needs and unwilling to compromise and seek other means of cooperation
There is a large philosophical gulf in Sydney between those who
see government ownership and control as the only port development
model and the reality of the current port trend towards private
sector ownership and the needs of the actual owners of the port
assets in the harbour. That said, all of the individuals and groups
we met with told us that a well-managed, coordinated and marketed
port is of benefit to all. Almost all felt that they could participate
(both financially and cooperatively) in some coordinating entity.
Issues around which there is general agreement include: a coordinated
port lobby to save the railway, a coordinated marketing approach
to profile the port, and a group to coordinate ice breaking, dredging,
and other physical port needs.