Logistics News

Governments calls for port efficiency reform

The federal government’s productivity commission says Australia’s port system is underperforming

The federal government’s productivity commission is calling for Australia’s port system to be reformed in a report on the sector’s current underperformance.

The report, titled Lifting productivity at Australia’s container ports: between water, wharf and warehouse, was released after industry members put forth 79 different submissions earlier this year.

A primary point made in the report says that Australia’s container port inefficiencies has cost the nation around $605 million each year.

After analysing system performance and technology uptake in the sector, commissioner Stephen King says the inquiry proves Australia’s major container ports underperform.

“Underperformance on Australia’s ports directly costs business and consumers,” King says.

“Any sustained disruptions to imports or exports magnify these costs across the economy because of the critical role of ports to trade and commerce.”

The productivity commission says that increased productivity at ports is still possible, despite the nation’s container ports having slower ship turnaround times.  

The report also says workplace arrangements are reducing the efficiency at ports, with Fair Work Act changes being recommended.


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Commissioner Julie Abramson says workplace arrangements at container terminals are holding back productivity.

“Highly restrictive clauses in terminal operators’ enterprise agreements limit the ways that workers and equipment can be deployed,” she says.

“Changes to the Fair Work Act and operation of the Fair Work Commission are recommended to tackle protracted enterprise bargaining in container ports and the disruptive industrial action that comes with it.”

Also mentioned in the report was lack of competition in the market, meaning customers face increased fees.

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