Knowles quits with key port and intermodal decisions still up in the air

<p>New South Wales planning and infrastructure minister Craig Knowles has stepped down as the ministerial upheaval in the Labor State Government continues. </p> <p>Mr Knowles quit the key ministerial post today (Wednesday, August 3) on the verge of an announcement on the expansion of Port Botany, now set for the end of August, following the independent inquiry report from Commissioner Kevin Clelland. </p> <p>This week Mr Knowles was also due to receive a crucial report from Laurie Brereton’s Freight Infrastructure Advisory Board on the road and rail infrastructure needed to support the expanded port volume.</p> <p>Mr Knowles had stressed at last week’s AusIntermodal conference that the government needed to ensure that a third player was not built out of the Port Botany expansion.</p> <p>"We do not want to deal out competition on the waterfront," he said.</p> <p>His comments were seen as a strong hint that the Government favours either his Department of Planning, Infrastructure, and Natural Resources’s Option 8 two-part compromise design, or that it may even go for the maximum single land area and adopt the larger Sydney Ports Corporation Option 1 with one 60 ha extension. </p> <p>Mr Knowles also said that without pre-empting Mr Brereton’s report, the recommedation would be a for a "much larger and sophisticated constellation of intermodal terminals", including two larger 500,000 teu capacity facilities probably at St Marys and Moorebank, as well as the 300,000 teu Enfield facility.</p> <p>However, there may now be concern that four facilities in the southwest &#8211 MIST and Austrak at Minto, the proposed Patrick facility at Ingleburn which this morning won court approval to go ahead, plus Moorebank &#8211 could be overkill. </p> <p>Mr Knowles was offered an infrastructure-based ministry but has turned it down. </p> <p>New premier Morris Iemma has also appointed a new infrastructure development unit to be chaired by a former Olympic Co-ordination Authority member, Professor David Richmond.</p> <br />