Victoria's long-running negotiations over the Port of Melbourne lease could be finalised this week, with compensation clauses the final sticking point.
The legislation still isn’t ready, months after the government hoped to put the 50-year, $6 billion lease on the market.
Treasurer Tim Pallas compared the long-running negotiations to “Groundhog Day”, and said there was one issue left to sort out with the opposition.
“That is the issue of adequate compensation if government undermines the value of the port itself,” Mr Pallas told reporters
The original legislation saw the new port owners paid significant compensation if the government builds a new port before Melbourne reaches its capacity.
The coalition opposition has argued against compensation and pushed for a new port to provide competition to Melbourne, and there could be an end in sight.
“I hope there can be an outcome this week. I think that would be the right thing to do,” opposition leader Matthew Guy told reporters.
Mr Pallas said the compensation clause had a “very big price tag” attached to it, potentially costing the state billions off the sale price.
“I hope that we’re not going through a process of simply devaluing the asset for politically motivated purposes, that would concern me,” he said.
Victoria plans to use the money raised from the port lease to fund suburban level crossing removals and other infrastructure projects.
* Victoria plans a 50-year, $6 billion lease of the Port of Melbourne.
* Original deal had compensation payouts if a new port is built before Melbourne reaches capacity.
* Opposition rejects any compensation, but is willing to negotiate a 15-year compensation period.
* Government wants a compensation regime for the full 50 years.
* Opposition says this is a bid to jack up the price at the expense of the public good.
* Port could be sold without legislation but it’s a last resort because competition protections probably won’t apply.
* The upper house will not vote through the bill in its current form.
* The sale legislation has been sitting on the notice paper for more than two months.
* Government has moved to refer it to the dispute resolution committee.
* Committee will have 30 days to hash out a deal.
* If it does, the deal is sent to both houses of parliament to vote on.
* If the committee fails, or if the upper house rejects it again, the premier can ask the governor to dissolve parliament.
* After a new election, the bill has to be reintroduced within two months.
* If it fails again, both houses sit together and a majority of all MPs will win the vote.
* Labor wants to use the money raised to spend on suburban level crossing removals and other infrastructure projects.
* The opposition supports the sale but doesn’t want the state’s ability to build another port to be constrained.
* The Greens oppose any sale of the port.