Port chief reveals big plans, NAIF loan plea, future goals
THE long-awaited Port Access Rd upgrade could be funded by the contentious Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund.
The Gladstone Ports Corporation chief executive officer is actively seeking financial support for the stage 2 upgrade, worth more than $80 million.
Peter O'Sullivan said it would be a game changer for the region and prepare the port for future expansion.
He said, if his ultimate container exports and Port Access Rd upgrade dreams come true, it would even make the commute to Brisbane easier.
With the goal of doubling its exports to 300 million tonnes, Mr O'Sullivan sees containers, coal and grains as the port's future.
"You're a brave person if you think you can predict what's on the horizon," he said.
"... but by being ready for anything, it's the smart way to be."
During the 2016 federal election Labor's Bill Shorten promised, if elected, $70 million towards the road upgrade.
But it was not to be, as the Liberal National Party did not make the same commitment.
In August this year Mr Shorten said the Port Access Rd upgrade was a key part of Gladstone's future.
Mr O'Sullivan said he has had "good" discussions with Senator Matt Canavan and Flynn MP Ken O'Dowd recently.
"We've had some interest from the NAIF, we talked to them about potential funding," Mr O'Sullivan said.
Indian mining giant Adani is also chasing $1 billion from the NAIF for its rail project.
The fund, set up in 2015, has approved one loan for a West Australian project.
"(Senator Canavan and Mr O'Dowd) are now being very supportive, they can see the future and see the links to (other Central Queensland projects)," he said.
Mr O'Sullivan referred to the GrainCorp's $18.5 million project in Emerald to build six bunkers and a 1000-tonne per hour rail loading facility.
The project would make transport of grains from the farm to the port more efficient.
Mr O'Sullivan sees one of the port's major opportunities in the 68,000 trucks transporting products from Central Queensland to Brisbane.
"Most of them are carrying containers filled with grains, we should get them in to Gladstone," he said.
"Just imagine getting 68,000 trucks off the road, it'd certainly make my (Brisbane) trips nicer."
With the goal to increase on the port's 6289 containers handled in 2016 - 17, Mr O'Sullivan said we needed to prepare for more trucks on Gladstone's roads.
The Port Access Rd upgrade would provide a detour for trucks taking them directly to Blain Dr or Red Rover Rd.
The chief of 16-months said it would be "smarter" to build the upgrade now and be ready when the growth starts.
"We know the truck traffic will increase, so why don't we do some smart planning and look at Port Access Rd stage two now," he said.