CONFIRMATION infrastructure charges represent a growing proportion of stevedore revenues have prompted calls for greater landside investment by the waterfront operators.

The infrastructure charges (more recently termed terminal access charges) were highlighted in the last Container Stevedore Monitoring Report released by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Among the key findings:

  • The industry generated $167m in revenue from infrastructure charges last financial year – an increase of 63%;
  • Some industry profitability indicators fell in 2018-19, continuing a trend from recent years. Industry operating profit fell by 4.7% to $81.3m and operating profit margin fell to 5.9%; and
  • Key indicators of quayside productivity went up by more than 5%, with the productivity of Australian container ports now on par with international ports of similar size and characteristics.

Victorian Transport Association chief executive Peter Anderson said while it was encouraging for industry that quayside productivity indicators had risen, they were concerned stevedores were not making the required investments required for landside productivity gain.

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“The ACCC report showed truck turnaround times actually worsened to an average of 29.3 minutes nationally,” Mr Anderson said.

“This is despite stevedores continuing to introduce – and increase – infrastructure surcharges across their terminals.

“As the ACCC report makes clear, landside transport operators are effectively underwriting the profitability and revenue of stevedores through the proliferation of infrastructure charges.”

Mr Anderson said a monopolistic trading environment meant there were limitations in how landside transport operators could respond to those charges.

“If stevedores are to continue with their program of increasing infrastructure charges, it is incumbent on them to make the appropriate investments across their terminal networks so that productivity and efficiency gains can flow through to road transport operators servicing the ports,” he said.

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