ACCC re­port ques­tions va­lid­ity of new port taxes

Big Rigs - - NEWS -

THE Aus­tralian Com­pe­ti­tion and Con­sumer Com­mis­sion has taken a more de­tailed look into the con­tro­ver­sial in­fra­struc­ture taxes and other sur­charges im­posed on port trans­port op­er­a­tors in re­cent times.

In its 2016-17 Con­tainer Steve­dore Mon­i­tor­ing re­port, the ACCC ac­knowl­edged that in­fra­struc­ture taxes im­posed by DP World and Patrick raised “a num­ber of is­sues for the port sup­ply chain”.

It said the taxes left trans­port car­ri­ers with higher op­er­at­ing charges and the in­abil­ity to switch to other steve­dores.

The re­port also noted the taxes “could earn DP World and Patrick a com­bined $70 mil­lion in rev­enues, which would be equiv­a­lent to a 5–6 per cent in­crease in unit rev­enues”.

The ACCC added: “It is con­cern­ing that truck and rail op­er­a­tors face these higher charges but are lim­ited in their abil­ity to take their busi­ness else­where.”

DP World and Patrick an­nounced the new taxes ear­lier this year with­out con­sult­ing Road Freight NSW or other in­dus­try groups.

Jus­ti­fi­ca­tions for these charges in­cluded in­creases in rent, land tax and rates, which were a “cost bur­den” the busi­nesses could not ab­sorb, and that the new sur­charges would be used to fund new in­fra­struc­ture.

The ACCC then noted: “How­ever, over­all unit costs for both steve­dores re­main sta­ble. The ACCC will be in­ter­ested to see whether these in­fra­struc­ture charges are used to im­prove land­side fa­cil­i­ties be­yond busi­ness-as-usual lev­els.”

The re­port packed less of a bite than ex­pected, sug­gest­ing the com­mis­sion was un­able to act on some con­cerns from in­dus­try groups about ex­ces­sive prices as there were no pro­vi­sions in the act to deal with the is­sue.

Af­ter re­view­ing the re­port, Road Freight NSW gen­eral man­ager Si­mon O’Hara said he wel­comed the com­mis­sion's ac­knowl­edge­ment the port taxes were an is­sue for hard-work­ing trans­port car­ri­ers.

“We are pleased that the ACCC has lis­tened to con­cerns raised by Road Freight NSW about the ef­fect port taxes are hav­ing on our mem­bers,” Mr O’Hara said.

“It’s en­cour­ag­ing that the ACCC has ac­knowl­edged the taxes are an is­sue for the port sup­ply chain and that it will fully ex­am­ine the im­pact of the charges in its 2017-18 steve­dore re­port.”

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