Swan doubts port capacity amid mining boom predictions

Treasurer raises spectre of more bottlenecks at the nation's ports as the resources boom returns

By Samantha Freestone | March 23, 2010

Port Bottlenecks look set to re-appear on Australian coasts after Treasurer Wayne Swan admitted delays of three to four years on upgrades were a possibility.

With the next resources boom showing all the early signs of "returning Australia to a two-speed economy," Swan has warned of big challenges ahead.

"It is possible there may continue to be bottlenecks in some parts of the country, but we've done as we've talked about before, as we've set up Infrastructure Australia," he says.

Swan says the progress of port upgrades depends on private sector investmen, despite theTreasury estimating $113 billion of advanced mining and energy projects could boost GDP by $140 billion to $240 billion by 2013-14.

"We've never had a plan for our ports. We've started investing in our ports and we did that in the last budget," Swan says.

On "weaknesses" in infrastructure planning, Swan says port capacity and rail are concerning.

"I think we've been concerned about our port capacity and the Minister for Infrastructure Anthony Albanese is now preparing an integrated strategy for ports in Australia," he says.

"Rail is another. That's why we put so much investment into the Australian Rail Track Corporation in our last budget. All of these things are important."

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