An ACCC container stevedore monitoring report issued today has underscored how stevedores are unrestrained when it comes to increasing infrastructure charges at ports around Australia. Among the key findings of the ACCC report:

· Infrastructure charges on landside transport operators left unconstrained may continue to increase significantly over time, with importers and exporters facing higher shipping charges;

· Landside road and rail operators are unable to directly choose stevedores, which limits their ability to practically respond to higher infrastructure charges;

· Stevedores can now earn a greater proportion of revenue in a market where they have more market power, and without competitive pressure to constrain charges.

The VTA has expressed concern at indiscriminate and excessive hikes in infrastructure charges, which has put additional pressure on operators to pass these increases through the supply chain and on to consumers.

The ACCC report reinforces a VTA recommendation for the introduction of genuine landside improvements at the Port of Melbourne.

Numerous landside factors at the Port are restricting operators from achieving greater productivity and efficiency, including no choice of stevedore, vessel bunching, poor asset utilisation prolonged waiting times for trucks.

The VTA is working with the Victorian Government, Freight Victoria and the Port of Melbourne on a strategy to deliver landside improvements road and rail freight operators desperately need to achieve productivity and efficiency gains to offset higher infrastructure charges.

The ACCC report also concedes that the ACCC has no jurisdiction to regulate infrastructure charges.

Our view has always been that such scrutiny is better left to state governments, which is why we welcome the Victorian Government’s bringing forward of a review into regulating pricing and charges, as a response to the most recent round of infrastructure charge hikes.

Ending indiscriminate infrastructure charge increases would be good for all Victorians, and we look forward to playing a leading role in a review that will hopefully give landside operators a fair go at the port.