TRANSPORT and freight bodies have banded together in order to fight what they say is the latest round of “crippling charges” imposed by stevedores nationwide.

Joining this crusade are Road Freight NSW, the Australian Trucking Association, Western Roads Federation and the Customs Brokers and Forwarders Council of Australia.

New charges were announced just as the 2018-19 Australian Competition and Customer Commission annual monitoring report was released showing that higher ‘infrastructure access charges’ for port users across the country resulted in revenue for stevedores soaring to $166.6m – a 63% rise on the previous year.

According to the industry groups, the stevedores’ charges “are unjustified and our alliance of industry groups is calling for a full, independent review”.

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CBFCA chief executive Paul Damkjaer said it was time for state Governments now need to act.

“These ongoing charges are an example of a small number of players in one market dictating terms and pricing, at the expense of Australia’s international trade,” Mr Damkjaer said.

“State governments and port authorities have a role to play and cannot leave it to the ACCC to resolve.”

RFNSW chief executive Simon O’Hara said members were operating on tight margins and these ongoing price rises were having “a crippling financial impact”.

“The stevedores are using their market power at the ports to continue imposing these unjustified port charges – using truck operators to increase their revenue,” Mr O’Hara said.

“It’s time industry had a fair and robust price monitoring system at the port which is why here in NSW, we have asked for the NSW Government’s urgent intervention.”

ATA chief executive Ben Maguire said the existing price monitoring framework had failed.

“The government needs to take urgent action to protect trucking operators from these monopoly charges,” he said.

Western Roads Federation chief executive Cam Dumesney said it was unreasonable for truckies to be expected to “cop a 450% increase in port charges”. “It’s clear that landside operators are propping-up the stevedores through these excessive charges, yet in return, there seems to be no investment in much-needed infrastructure at the ports,” Mr Dumesney said.

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