Australia's infrastructure charges under scrutiny

The question has been asked whether it is time to hold a public inquiry into Australian ports’ infrastructure charges (image is for illustrative purposes only) Photo: Geoff Whalan/flickr/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 The question has been asked whether it is time to hold a public inquiry into Australian ports’ infrastructure charges (image is for illustrative purposes only) Photo: Geoff Whalan/flickr/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The question has been asked whether it is time to hold a public inquiry into Australian ports' infrastructure charges.

The charges have been the subject of heated debate and the Australian Peak Shippers Association (APSA), representing the interests of exporters mainly in relation to liner shipping services, has questioned whether Australia should follow the pathway of the US in reviewing port practices.

In a published opinion piece, APSA secretariat Travis Brooks-Garrett said that in 2016, a group of 25 major retailers, manufacturers, truckers, transportation intermediaries and other business groups, known as the Coalition for Fair Port Practices, petitioned the US Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) to set new policy preventing terminal operators and ocean carriers from charging unfair fees. The FMC has responded by holding public hearings on the issue.

Mr Brooks-Garrett said transgressions and exploitative behaviour continues in the Australian ports sector.

“Although progress is being made in some areas, urgent representations over the infamous infrastructure charges continue to fall on defiantly deaf ears, it seems. So is it time for a public inquiry into port practices in Australia?” he asked.

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