NEW South Wales transport and roads minister Andrew Constance has confirmed he has written to Port Botany stevedores regarding increases infrastructure or access charges.

In a letter to the Freight and Trade Alliance, dated 16 April and seen by DCN, Mr Constance noted that with COVID-19, circumstances were “far from business as usual”.

“Given the unprecedented situation posed by the coronavirus and the crucial role of all parties involved in the supply chain and in moving freight during this pandemic, it is the New South Wales government’s strong view that now is not the time to increase charges,” the minister wrote.

“I have therefore called for restraint from the Port Botany stevedores in not increasing infrastructure access surcharge charges for at least the duration of the COVID-19 response.

“In recognition that cash flow is a pain point raised by the road freight industry, I have requested that Port Botany stevedores engage with Transport for NSW and the road transport sector to find a solution to payment terms.”

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Mr Constance noted that with the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, supply chain stakeholders reported additional cash flow pressures and increases to access charges were exacerbating those financial pressures.

“I am also aware that the landside transport and import/export industries have raised concerns that further increases in port charges have the potential to undermine the ongoing viability of some operators during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the minister wrote.

FTA director Paul Zalai was heartened by the report but said it was time for action.

“Our message to state governments is simple in what is shaping up to be an extended period of economic uncertainty ‘please no more reports, the issues are obvious and we now need decisive action’,” Mr Zalai said.

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