As port cities, Tianjin and Melbourne share many similarities. Since 1980, the Port of Tianjin has been the Friendship Port of the Port of Melbourne for more than 30 years. In a recent interview, Chief Executive Officer of the Port of Melbourne Corporation, Brendan Bourke, said that he hoped the “new” Port of Melbourne can continue its cooperation with the Port of Tianjin like before.
What does he mean by saying “new”? It turned out that, a consortium of investors, including investors from China, has paid a higher than expected $7.3 billion for a 50-year lease of the Port of Melbourne last year. After that, the Port of Melbourne Corporation was established to develop and operate the port, and Brendan Bourke is the first CEO, and that’s why he always puts the word “new” on his lips.
Though new to his position, he has already had a feeling that Melbourne is not that far away from Tianjin. “The first time I stepped into the Corporation, I saw a conference room named ‘Port of Tianjin’,” recalled Mr. Bourke, “and I knew that the Port of Melbourne has worked closely with Tianjin as well as its port. I am looking forward that our cooperation in the future will be like a bottle of good wine, sweet and mellow.”
The 50-year lease of the Port of Melbourne is huge in Australia. When will the $7.3 billion be used? According to Mr. Bourke, it will mainly be used in infrastructure. “Part of the fund will be used to upgrade the infrastructure of the port, while another part will be used to improve the infrastructure of the state of Victoria,“ he said, “We can build railroads connecting the inland of Australia with our port to make it easier for crops to export.”
Rachel Johnson, CEO of the Victorian Ports Corporation (Melbourne) (VPCM), agreed with Mr. Bourke’s view. She believes that a closer tie will be established between the Port of Melbourne and the city of Tianjin and China in general. “Chinese investors being a part of the investor consortium will bring more opportunities to the Port of Melbourne,” said Ms. Johnson, “every week, we have 7 cargo liners and 6 transit liners coming from China. They are very important to the development of Victoria.” According to her, the state government plans to expand the cruise terminal of the Port of Melbourne. “We hope that more visitors from the Port of Tianjin will go on a trip on a cruise ship to Melbourne and enjoy the wonderful view,” said Ms. Johnson.
By Wang Yaoming, Jin Wan Bao