Port merger plan hits snag

State Government plans to amalgamate the management of ports have hit a snag in the south of the State.

Transport Minister Dean Nalder revealed yesterday there would be a delay in setting up the Southern Ports Authority to manage the facilities in Bunbury, Albany and Esperance.

The delay is expected to last for several months and comes as Esperance Ports chief executive Shayne Flanagan prepares to leave the post on June 30.

"The Esperance board will continue in the interim and provide additional assistance as required in addressing any community and stakeholder concerns," Mr Nalder said.

It is understood jostling for places on the SPA board is a factor in the delay.

There is a vast distance between the three ports which have operational differences and until now have been run by their own directors.

Shadow transport minister Ken Travers said he would not be surprised if there was intense competition for places on the new board.

Mr Travers said there were fears the SPA board might not adequately represent local interests and businesses in the three ports zones. The Government plans to run the Albany and Esperance ports from Bunbury creating the potential for conflict in funding and development decisions.

Mr Nalder ordered a review into the readiness of the new port authorities to begin operations after a delay in the necessary legislation passing through Parliament.

He said the review found the differences in operating models across Bunbury, Albany and Esperance made creation of the SPA "more complicated".

The Esperance board is considering appointing an interim chief executive until the SPA is up and running.

The West Australian

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