Ignore the trucking industry and introduce VBS: IPART

By: Jason Whittaker


The New South Wales Government is being called upon to ignore the trucking industry and push through a proposal for

The New South Wales Government is being called upon to ignore the trucking industry and push through a proposal for an auction system at Port Botany.

In an address to the Melbourne Institute, Chairman of the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) Michael Keating dismissed claims by the trucking industry that a vehicle booking system (VBS) is not the answer.

According to Keating, an auction system will make more efficient use of current road infrastructure. He says while stevedores work on a 24-hour basis, road freight carriers prefer to work mainly in business hours which is resulting in "under-used infrastructure in some hours and excess demand in peak hours".

"The solution according to some road carriers is more investment by stevedores in cranes, but a better solution would be to auction loading slots so that their price reflected their scarcity value," Keating says.

But as IPART continues to press its case for a VBS on the back of a report it released into boosting port efficiency, the industry is working to convince the Government to reject the proposal.

The NSW branch of the Australian Trucking Association (ATA), for instance, is lobbying Minister for Ports Joe Tripodi.
"We will fight for it not to go ahead," Jill Lewis from ATA NSW says.
"I am optimistic the Government will listen."

Tripodi says he will consult with the industry before deciding on how to respond to IPART’s findings.

In its report, IPART called for stevedores to introduce a two-tiered VBS containing ‘firm’ slots and ‘interruptible’ slots. Under the ‘firm’ slot measure, trucking operators will vie for a guaranteed time of entry and exit while the other method will continue the first-come-first-served situation.

IPART recommended payments be varied between peak and off-peak periods, and argued for government intervention only if Port Botany’s problems cannot be rectified through this measure.
"It is in the best interests of the supply chain that the stevedores retain the function of determining the number of slots offered," the report says.

Lewis, however, wants an independent booking system established.

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