ACCC blasts Melbourne stevedores

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has slammed stevedores charging truck and train firms unreasonably high fees for containers’ collection or delivery at the Port of Melbourne.

The commission has called for governmental intervention in light of some stevedoring prices at the Australian facility being on track to increase over 2,000% in 20 months.

In a report, the commission said that with more competition causing profits to narrow for stevedoring services in Australia, the users of most terminals have had an “infrastructure charge” made on them, with fee escalation most noticeable in Melbourne.

The ACCC added that policymakers must consider the probable effect of these charges on supply chain prices for land transport operators as well as importers and exporters who might ultimately be paying for the infrastructure fee via their land transport costs.

The ACCC report noted one instance of DP World’s fee per container in Melbourne going from $3.45 in April last year to $85.30 from this coming January.

It also argued that charges, if they remain unconstrained, could go up to a point where they would exceed what the stevedores require to recover costs and earn an adequate return.

“Australia’s importers and exporters would then face higher charges to ship their goods than otherwise and not significantly benefit from the additional competition between stevedores at the east coast port,” it explained.

According to news.com.au, the ACCC was told by stevedores that the heightened charges were caused by pressures like the need to recover investments in terminal facilities, property-related cost and decreasing prices charged to shipping lines.

Meanwhile, the Victorian Transport Association, as reported by news.com.au, said that although stevedores may have the right to put fees up, they owed it to operators to use proceeds to provide improvements to landside facilities.

Chief executive Peter Anderson commented: “Ending these indiscriminate cost increases would be good for all Victorians, and we look forward to playing a leading role in a review that will hopefully give landside operators a fair go at the port.”

A review by Freight Victoria into regulating pricing and charges for the Port of Melbourne is being undertaken.

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