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THE Victoria International Container Terminal has called for the government to delay its decision on the Port of Melbourne’s $15 a container levy on the port’s imports proposed to fund its planned port rail shuttle to Swanson Dock.

The port rail shuttle is the first major initiative proposed by PoM since its acquisition in 2016 by the private financial consortium, Lonsdale Group. The owners have proposed a new $15 impost on all containers imported to Victoria. The impost is to apply to both Webb Dock and Swanson Dock unilaterally, even though Webb Dock has no connection to the proposed shuttle and none is planned.

The shuttle is intended to improve the port’s interface with Victoria’s rail networks and thereby reduce the number of trucks using local roads. But as currently planned, the shuttle does not link with Melbourne’s metropolitan rail network and leaves stranded the Webb Dock growth terminals of the port.

VICT says because of this, the shuttle will have “little prospect of taking trucks off Melbourne’s roads in the near future and as planned will not mitigate the much greater truck congestion expected as time goes on”.

Webb Dock, located outside the West Gate Bridge, is expected to provide the lion’s share of the future growth of the port because it can berth the larger ships of the future, being unconstrained by the height of the bridge.

VICT said that the solution is to rethink the purpose of the levy.

“The logical step would be to connect Webb Dock to intermodal freight hubs in greater Melbourne areas, such as Dandenong and Altona,” VICT said in a statement.

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VICT said a delay in assessing the proposal would enable stakeholders to take a more rigorous look at the future of the port and seek more effective ways to get trucks off Melbourne’s roads while at the same time lowering costs for all users.

“VICT wants a genuine rail solution for the port, like all industry stakeholders do,” CEO of VICT Anders Dømmestrup said.

“But the solution must include Webb Dock, which is on the right side of the bridge. This is critically important for the future of Melbourne and Victoria. We are asking for three months to work with the government and the Port of Melbourne to deliver a rail solution that considers all parties”, he said.

“We have reminded the Victorian Government that this is the first move being made at the Port of Melbourne by the international consortium of financial institutions which acquired it. It would be a great pity if we failed to secure the development of the whole of the port for future years,” Mr Dømmestrup said.

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