Saturday 17th Nov, 2018

Transport operators “stunned” by infrastructure fee hikes

Photo: Ingram Publishing
Photo: Ingram Publishing

TRANSPORT operators have expressed dismay at a decision by DPW Australia to hike infrastructure fees at Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

In announcing the decision, DPWA cited punishing increases in occupancy and energy costs at its terminals and sustained pressure from the global shipping downturn.

Road Freight New South Wales general manager, Simon O’Hara, described the move as a “kick in the guts for truckies”.

“Once again, the latest price gouge has been cynically blamed on so-called ‘increased costs’ at the port, but the ACCC has already acknowledged that extra taxes could earn DPWA and Patrick a combined revenue of $70 million, equivalent to a 5% to 6% increase in unit revenues,” Mr O’Hara said.

“The ACCC also noted that ‘unit costs for both stevedores remain stable’, so from our perspective there is simply no justification for yet another price hike – it’s nothing but a greedy cash grab from DPWA.”

Mr O’Hara said he was concerned truckies’ operational costs would rise and be passed on through the supply chain.

“What’s worse is the other stevedores will undoubtedly follow DPWA,” he said.

Victorian Transport Association chief executive, Peter Anderson, described the latest increases as “incredibly unsettling” for an industry under pressure from shrinking margins and higher costs.

“Increases as massive as this are unsustainable in any other industry so it will come as no surprise that operators will be up in arms with what’s been announced,” Mr Anderson said.

Secretariat for the Freight and Trade Alliance and Australian Peak Shippers Association, Travis Brooks-Garrett, acknowledged DPWA had responded to concerns and provided early notification.

“However, FTA/APSA cannot accept the quantum, timing or reasons provided for the increase,” Mr Brooks-Garrett said.

“Unfortunately FTA/APSA warned the ACCC that inaction would see industry faced with regular and significant increases at the terminal gate, which is exactly what we see today.”

Mr Brooks-Garrett said the FTA/APSA would meet with Port of Melbourne chief executive Brendan Bourke on Monday and would also engage with state and federal parliamentarians on the issue.

New South Wales Ports chief executive, Marika Calfas, said it was “not desirable to have an infrastructure surcharge imposed at the port and to have that charge increased in nine months”.

“However we welcome the confirmation by DP World that the increase is not attributed to rent at Port Botany,” Ms Calfas said.

A Port of Melbourne spokesperson said increases in fees and charges were made at the discretion of DPWA and did not relate to actions by the Port of Melbourne.

“If a tenant chooses to increase charges for commercial purposes it is a pricing adjustment that sits solely with them,” the spokesman said.

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