Port takeover rumours rejected

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 14:50 23/01/2013
Gerry Brownlee
FAIRFAX NZ

STRONG STANCE: Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee.

Ferry terminal
Artist's impression of the Clifford Bay ferry terminal

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The inclusion of Wellington's port company in negotiations over the Clifford Bay discussion are because it is affected by potential ship size changes, not because the Government wants it to operate a new port, Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee said yesterday.

He dismissed rumours that the Government had decided Wellington port company Centreport would operate a new port at Clifford Bay rather than current Picton port operator Port of Marlborough because of its chief executive's lack of enthusiasm for the Clifford Bay project.

"As far as I'm concerned, I have very good working relationship with [Port of Marlborough chief executive] Ian McNabb."

Mr Brownlee said that if the interisland port was shifted to Clifford Bay from Picton, that would affect ship sizes used by ferry operators Interislander and Bluebridge.

Those changes would affect Centreport as well, which was why it was included as a key stakeholder in discussions on the proposal.

No decisions had been made about potential operators for a new port, Mr Brownlee said.

"Oh no, absolutely no decisions have been made about that at all. That would be a process that is to be properly gone through." he said.

"We have no preconceived ideas about that at all, we are nowhere near thinking about that at all."

Mr McNabb said he had not discussed Centreport's involvement with his counterpart at Centreport.

"I'm not sure where they fit into the picture."

The port company was in discussions with the Ministry of Transport's commercial project director for the Clifford Bay project, Andrew Robertson, and he expected to meet with him shortly, he said.

The port company still had "a few issues" with the confidentiality agreement the ministry wanted it to sign, but would discuss them with the ministry, Mr McNabb said.

Meanwhile, Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman confirmed he would meet Mr Robertson at the council building tomorrow morning.

It would be a preliminary catchup, Mr Sowman said.

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- The Marlborough Express

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