A MAJOR expansion of the Port of Townsville will soon get under way after Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a $75 million contribution to the project.
The $193 million project involves widening the shipping channels to accommodate larger ships and is the first stage of works under the $1.64 Townsville Port Expansion.
The Federal funding matches the $75 million already contributed by the State Government.
North Queensland based Senator Ian Macdonald welcomed the funding, and said it would address the problem of the existing access channel being too small.
Larger vessels had been forced to bypass Townsville, including both cruise ships and vessels carrying North Queensland exports.
“Scott Morrison has been aware of the need for this project for some time and when he was last in Townsville as the then Treasurer, he visited the Port of Townsville and understood the need to expand its capacity,” Mr Macdonald said.
“I’m delighted the new Prime Minister has acted quickly to deliver this positive news for Townsville and North Queensland, because we can take this funding to the bank - it’s not contingent on the outcome of a future federal election.”
Senator Macdonald said cruise ships carrying more than 3,000 passengers would be able to access the Port of Townsville following the expansion project, creating a big opportunity for the tourism industry to take advantage of larger tourist numbers.
Port of Townsville Limited Chair Renita Garard said that the funding announcement was a significant milestone in the Port’s 154-year history.
“Having certainty that the port can accept larger ships is a catalyst to attract and retain investment into the region, just as the port has underpinned economic development and growth of this region since 1864,” Ms Garard said.
Townsville Port is a vital trade gateway for Northern Australia. It is the country’s largest sugar, zinc, lead, copper and fertiliser port and Northern Australia’s largest container and automotive port. It is the point of entry and departure for products shipped around the world.
Port Chief Executive Officer, Ranee Crosby, said the channel widening was essential for the port’s growth, ensuring goods produced in the region could get access to the Asia-Pacific and beyond, and that the everyday items people buy like food, clothes and electrical goods find their way onto retail shelves in North Queensland.
“Ships are getting bigger, making channel widening vital,” Ms Crosby said.
“Bigger ships coming to Townsville will mean lower freight costs, better connectivity to global markets, as well as allowing larger cruise ships to visit the city, which will further boost cruise tourism in the region.
“After more than ten years in the planning, our team is ready to start delivering the biggest investment project in our history.”
The Queensland Government has committed $75 million towards the channel works, and Port of Townsville Limited will fund $43 million.
Queensland and Commonwealth environmental approvals for the project are already in place.