NEW landside charges at Patrick Terminals have come into effect this week, including a controversial charge for long trucks at some of its terminals. 

The revised charges, which were announced in late January, include a $50-per-truck long vehicle fee, which applies to truck and trailer combinations of more than 26 metres at the Sydney and Brisbane terminals. 

Container Transport Alliance Australia said transport operators were “bewildered” by the long vehicle fee. CTAA said it was a “draconian tax” on higher productivity freight vehicles such as super b-doubles and a-doubles capable of carrying four TEU at a time. 

CTAA director Neil Chambers said no valid justification has been provided to transport operators by Patrick for the introduction of the long vehicle fee in Sydney and Brisbane. 

“Also, despite overtures to Patrick’s senior management, no opportunity has been given for a collaborative discussion on how to address road transport/terminal interface improvements without the need for this new fee,” Mr Chamber said. 

Patrick Terminals CEO Michael Jovicic told DCN the stevedore facilitates supply-chain productivity through the handling of all modes of transportation, including long vehicles. 

“The government’s long-standing policy has sought to promote modal shift to rail and Patrick Terminals has invested accordingly,” he said. 

“Meanwhile, Patrick Terminals has not been consulted on the disjointed government policy to increase the issuance of long vehicle permits and the subsequent impact of these vehicles on the Patrick terminal operations. Whilst we recognise that these vehicles create certain efficiencies on the road side, they create certain inefficiencies on the terminal side.” 

Mr Jovicic said Patrick has invested to accommodate the higher numbers of long vehicles incurring infrastructure costs, additional equipment costs and increased labour resources to support the servicing of more long vehicles.

“We are committed to supporting efficiencies for all modes of landside transport; however, we can also expect to earn a reasonable return for provision of these services,” he said. 

“Patrick has engaged with the government in accordance with existing protocols as it pertains to the introduction of new fees and/or changes to fee levels. Patrick will continue to contribute to supply-chain productivity by handling long vehicles and we are committed to engaging directly with representative transport operators to explore mutually beneficial landside efficiency initiatives.” 

Mr Chambers pointed out the fee is unlikely to lead to transport operators curtailing the use of HPFVs because they have already invested heavily in them, with enormous sunk costs. 

“The productivity benefits of HPFVs have been enjoyed by transport operators and their import and export customers for some time now through lower unit costs, greater volume productivity, enhanced on-road safety and more environmentally friendly operations for the given freight task,” Mr Chambers said. 

“Through CTAA, transport operators have again asked Patrick not to implement the long vehicle fee. Instead, Patrick is again invited to the discussion table to address how HPFVs are operated to/from Patrick’s autostrad terminals in Sydney and Brisbane. 

“If there are operational productivity and efficiency issues to be addressed regarding the use of HPFVs within Patrick’s terminals, then let’s address them collaboratively without the imposition of the long vehicle fee.”