Transport Minister Eric Charlton said today the efficiency and effectiveness of ports in Western Australia would be improved substantially through legislation introduced into State Parliament.
He said the new Port Authorities Bill would underpin the Government's policies for port reform and allow benefits to flow through to port users and the community.
"The legislation will give port authorities far greater flexibility in undertaking their functions," Mr Charlton said.
"They will enjoy greater commercial freedom and be able to respond better to changes in market conditions, including having the discretion to provide services directly or have them provided by the private sector," he said.
Mr Charlton said several existing Port Authority Acts dated from the turn of the century and there was a need to update the legislative framework.
Seven separate acts would be repealed and ports would come under one modern, unified Act.
Public service-type regulations would be relaxed and port authorities would no longer be governed by the Public Sector Management Act and the Financial Administration and Audit Act.
Provisions based on Corporations Law would now apply with legal and financial responsibilities similar to those that prevail in the private sector.
Mr Charlton said there would still be control by Government and an emphasis on accountability to Parliament, with the State Government continuing to set the overall direction of port authorities.
"We are not about charging high prices or maximising profits from our ports," he said.
"We want ports to improve productivity, reduce costs and provide the best possible service to their customers.
"Port authorities and their staff have been doing a good job under difficult circumstances and the rationalisation of existing legislation will have administrative as well as commercial advantages," he said.
Mr Charlton said the new legislation would give port authorities the scope to grow their trade by allowing them to adopt innovative management and work practices and, if necessary call on greater involvement from the private sector in port operations.
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