LEGISLATION that would enable the lease of the Port of Newcastle was debated in the NSW upper house late on Tuesdaynight.

However, the debate was adjourned, as it is understood the government still has not received an indication from the two Shooters and Fishers Party MPs, Robert Borsak and Robert Brown, about whether they will support the bill.

The pair share the balance of power in the Legislative Council, which is in its final sitting week before Parliament’s winter break.

NSW Treasurer Mike Baird will be in Newcastle today to sell his plan for the long-term lease.

Mr Baird will meet Port Corporation management, staff and union representatives to ‘‘quell some of the broad concerns’’ about workers’ entitlements and jobs.

He also plans to address the reservation of public space.

In last week’s budget, the state government said it would seek to lease the Port of Newcastle for 99 years, and use $340million of the $700million it expected to earn to build light rail between Wickham and Newcastle.

Another $120million had already been promised to improve the city centre.

Any cash left over from the $460million would stay in the Hunter for spending on other regional projects.

Mr Baird said issues surrounding dredging, pilotage, security and environmental protection would be addressed in the study, to be completed this year.

The port is expected to be leased before the next budget.

Mr Baird called on Labor to end its opposition to the plan, which he described as a ‘‘once in a generation opportunity for Newcastle’’.

‘‘It’s time Labor got on board with the revitalisation of Newcastle. It seems to me their plan is to leave everything unchanged,’’ he said.

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