THE sufferings of port operators have been vindicated in a new report by the Grattan Institute recommending an investigation into stevedore surcharges.
The controversial surcharges have been under major scrutiny of Industry group Road Freight NSW (RFNSW) who contend the fees have been unilaterally imposed on truckies.
According to the Grattan report - Competition in Australia: Too little of a good thing? - high profits earned in "natural monopolies” such as ports, "suggest that regulation may be too lax” and that "high prices can result if regulation does not sufficiently compensate for weak competitive pressure.”
RFNSW General Manager Simon O'Hara welcomed the recommendation for "toughening price and access regulation in ports”, saying it coincides with new analysis showing that carriers will be forced to pay up to $338,000 per annum to DP World Australia (DPWA) alone in proposed new port infrastructure surcharges.
Earlier this month, DPWA announced further levy of $37.65 on trucks entering the Port Botany Terminal, a hike of $16.49 on the earlier infrastructure tax of $21.16 announced by the
stevedore in April.
"With the clock ticking until the new DPWA tax takes effect on New Year's Day, RFNSW has again written to the ACCC, asking that it urgently intervenes to put a stop to the stevedores using
their market power to impose these ongoing port surcharges on hard-working truckies,” Mr O'Hara said.
"The new findings from the Grattan Institute justify why the ACCC must act.
"The increased DPWA levy is an unjustified double whammy for truckies who are already struggling on tight margins. RFNSW is currently collating feedback from members on how the
increased port charges will affect their bottom line.
"On their current volumes, one of our RFNSW members estimates they'll be forking out $301,000 to $338,000 to DPWA alone.
"The cash flow of carriers will be constrained even further and it's the smaller, family-operated businesses who will struggle to make quick payments to the stevedores through the Vehicle
Booking Scheme, yet have to wait up to a month to get paid by their customers. It's simply
unsustainable,” he said.