The state government says its protecting the future of Victoria's commercial ports.
Ports and Freight Minister Melissa Horne has released Navigating our Port Futures: The Victorian Commercial Ports Strategy, which sets out a 30-year framework to ensure an efficient and productive ports system.
The strategy is the result of the Independent Review of the Victorian Ports System, the most extensive ports reform review process in decades, with port authorities, transport operators and industry groups providing insight and feedback.
"We're driving the biggest ports reform program in Victoria in decades - with this strategy critical to protect the future of our commercial ports and achieve a sector that's responsive to market demands,:" Ms Horne said.
"This strategy will ensure our ports operate in an efficient and productive way to support the system, meet the needs of all Victorians and continue to grow our economy."
Approximately $26 billion of locally produced and manufactured exports pass through Victoria's commercial ports annually, handling almost a quarter of Australia's total food and fibre exports.
Ms Horne said Navigating our Port Futures was a 30-year vision to achieve a commercial ports sector that was responsive to market demands; was well planned and balanced the needs of industry and community.
It also looked at efficiency, productivity and resilience, as the global environment became more volatile.
Ports would operate with clear roles and responsibilities.
Ms Horne said the government was already working to meet those objectives - including continuing to work closely with the Port of Melbourne (PoM) to support the growth of the port and meet market needs.
Improvements at the port include on-dock rail infrastructure at Swanson Dock linking the Port Rail Shuttle Network, shifting more of the metropolitan freight task onto rail and taking thousands more trucks off local roads.
Read more: Freight rail into PoM drops again
Work was also underway on a 'port supply chain guide' to confirm roles and responsibilities of Port managers and promote shared understanding across the sector.
The Government began implementing several key changes recommended by the review in 2021, including establishing Ports Victoria, which combined the Victorian Regional Channels Authority and Victorian Ports Corporation Melbourne.
The Port of Melbourne has welcomed the Strategy.
"The Strategy is a welcome recognition of the important role Victoria's ports play in the economic wellbeing of Victoria and the surrounding regional areas of both mainland Australia and Tasmania," Port of Melbourne chief executive Saul Cannon said.
"We believe the Strategy provides a strong framework for the ongoing operational success and development of the Port of Melbourne, and in turn this will help ensure we can continue to meet the trade needs of Victoria for decades to come."
Mr Cannon welcomed the State Government's commitment to continuing to work with Port of Melbourne to support planning for the next tranche of container capacity.
"Based on our current assessment the next tranche of international container terminal capacity will be required at the port around 2030 if we are to meet Victoria's forecast trade demand and we will be working closely with the government and port stakeholders in the years ahead to deliver the infrastructure needed." Mr Cannon said.
The state government had a key role in ensuring that Victoria's transport system was capable of meeting the rapidly growing freight task.
"Port of Melbourne has already invested more than $370 million inside the port gate and we anticipate further capital investment of an estimated $2 billion over the next 10-15 years.," Mr Cannon said.
The Strategy also supported Port of Melbourne's objectives for land use planning for new road and rail network capacity needed to support the growth of trade volumes at Webb Dock.
"Port of Melbourne supports the government's objective for more freight on rail with a number of projects underway, we look forward to continuing our work with Government to build a successful port rail supply chain," he said.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.