Australia's Port of Melbourne Up for Grabs
Australia passed legislation on Thursday to enable the long-term lease of its largest shipping container terminal, the Port of Melbourne, freeing up privatization plans to move ahead after months of political headwinds.
Investors from China to Qatar are flocking to Australian infrastructure because it is seen as well-regulated and predictable, offering a reprieve from volatility in commodity and equity markets.
"The Labor government has negotiated in good faith to reach agreement on a bill that delivers a strong offering to the market and a positive economic benefit for all Victorians," state treasurer Tim Pallas said in a statement, announcing passage of the law.
The sale is part of the Australian government's ambitious A$100 billion ($75 billion) privatization plan to cut debt and upgrade the country's infrastructure.
In the statement, the government said it would set up a new A$200 million ($150 million) agriculture infrastructure and jobs fund to drive regional economic growth and boost exports from the farmers to the port.
The Port of Melbourne is home to Australia’s largest container terminal. It handles almost 2.6 million containers handled annually, and also handles around 1000 new motor vehicles per day. The port handles around 3,000 ship visits annually.
The sale was first proposed in March 2014 by the conservative Liberal government then ruling the state. Victoria has since had a change of government and a lengthy public inquiry into the divestment.