Terminal operator Bryden Power drives a stacker to move containers around. Picture: DAVID THORPETHE operators of the privately run Ettamogah Rail Hub have slammed the secrecy surrounding Wodonga Council’s plans for a freight centre at its Logic industrial estate.
They have questioned the feasibility of a rail freight business at Logic and whether Wodonga ratepayers will “end up footing the bill for this behind-closed-doors decision by the council”.
Wodonga Council is considering selling land to Blanalko Pty Ltd, the property arm of SCT Logistics, with a view to setting up a freight terminal at Logic.
A decision on the sale is set for a council meeting on January 28 with councillors to hear those who have made submissions on the deal at a special meeting next Monday.
The concerns of those at the Ettamogah Rail Hub have been outlined in its submission, which was formally lodged with the council this week.
The hub’s strategy and business development manager Robert Perkins said “we’re appealing to commonsense”.
“Why would the citizens of Wodonga support a deal when they’re not entitled to know the details of that deal,” Mr Perkins said.
In its submission the hub operators claims “the extent of the financial benefits to SCT Logistics in the terms of the sale mean the land is being sold at substantially less than valuation, with no transparency about exactly how much less”.
At a meeting in November, Wodonga mayor Rodney Wangman declined to say how much SCT had offered for the site and the council has rejected a freedom of information request on the matter by the Ettamogah Rail Hub.
The deal involves a terms of agreement ending in 2023 with possession to occur after a planning permit for a rail terminal is issued and government funding secured.
Wodonga ratepayers will also partially fund agreed infrastructure and the council will enter into a rates concession deed.
“Our objection to the proposal comes down to the substantial secret subsidies involved which will distort competition and lead to higher costs for rail users,” the hub’s submission argues.
The rail hub submission also contrasts Wodonga Council’s approach to that of Gippsland’s Latrobe Council which “undertook a transparent business case to determine (the) commercial viability” of its plan for a rail freight terminal.
“Ettamogah Rail Hub meets all the criteria outlined by Latrobe City Council; the proposed SCT Logistics terminal at Logic would not,” the submission stated.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.