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‘Secret’ details of Newcastle container terminal in ACCC court case

Thursday, 23 May 2019 | 00:00

The NSW government has taken legal action to stop confidential documents at the heart of the Newcastle container terminal controversy from being made public during a court case.

The documents are part of a Federal Court case that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has taken against NSW Ports, operator of Port Botany and Port Kembla, over its part in a two-stage agreement that effectively stops Newcastle developing a container terminal.

“We are alleging that making these agreements containing provisions which would effectively compensate Port Kembla and Port Botany if the Port of Newcastle developed a container terminal, is anti-competitive and illegal,” ACCC chair Rod Sims said in December.

With the case in its early stages, the government applied last month to have a range of documents, that might otherwise be public, to remain confidential.

“The state has not joined the ACCC’s court case against NSW Ports,” a Treasury spokesperson said in response to questions from the Newcastle Herald.

“It has made an interlocutory application which seeks to ensure that the State’s confidential information – which the ACCC wishes to use in the proceedings – remains confidential.

“The state is not a party to the case and it is not appropriate for it to comment on, or release documents relating to the proceedings.”

In response to the government’s application, the judge hearing the case, Justice Jayne Jagot, issued orders on May 15 that were published on the Federal Court’s website, naming the documents the government wants kept confidential.

While most pertain to the Botany and Kembla privatisation, some relate to Newcastle, including two documents, both titled Mayfield Transaction Parameters and dated August 2013, eight months before Newcastle was privatised in April 2014.

Their titles and date indicate they relate to the container terminal the state-owned Newcastle Port Corporation had spent some years proposing.

A hearing to decide on the confidentiality application is scheduled for tomorrow, Wednesday, May 22.

NSW Ports, Port of Newcastle and the ACCC all declined to comment.
Source: The Herald

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