Australia passes bill to privatize Port of Melbourne

The Andrews Labor Government has adopted legislation to enable the lease of the Port of Melbourne’s largest container shipping terminal after several bumps on the road hit over the past year.

The legislation entitled the Delivering Victorian Infrastructure (Port of Melbourne Lease Transaction) Bill 2015 was passed by the Victorian Parliament on Thursday, the government said.

The lease proceeds set at $6 billion, to be paid up front, will go into the Victorian Transport Fund (VTF), which is planned to use the money to support key infrastructure initiatives throughout Victoria.

A new $200 million Agriculture Infrastructure and Jobs Fund are also to be established.

“The Labor Government has negotiated in good faith to reach agreement on a Bill that delivers a strong offering to the market and a positive economic benefit for all Victorians,” the government’s statement reads.

“We promised that a Labor Government would lease the Port of Melbourne and use the proceeds to build key infrastructure, like removing our 50 worst level crossings. We’re keeping our word and getting on with it.”

“This is a great outcome for Victorians and a great result for its regions, with key transport initiatives across the State to provide a boost to the economy, which is good news for jobs,” Treasurer Tim Pallas said.

The passing of the bill comes following the opposition from the Liberal-National coalition, which said last year that it would not support the sale in the upper house and would recommend the proposal to be referred to a parliamentary inquiry.

With the legislation now passed, the lease transaction’s Joint Financial Advisers, Morgan Stanley and Flagstaff, will soon call for Expressions of Interest from the market on behalf of the state.

The bidding race is expected to include Hastings Funds Management, IFM Investors, QIC Ltd and partners.

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