Monopoly on Gladstone port towage to remain


ACCC sees benefit in a competitive tender process for towage services at the Port of Gladstone and will allow a related third-line forcing notification to stand

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) says it sees benefit in a proposed competitive tender process for towage services at the Port of Gladstone and will allow a related third-line forcing notification to stand.

ACCC Chairman Graeme Samuel says Gladstone Ports Corporation proposes to run a competitive tender process to select the towage provider at the port.

"The ACCC believes that such a process is likely to stimulate competition between towage operators which are interested in providing their services at the port. This competitive process is likely to deliver benefits to port users in the form of increased

efficiency and cost savings," he says.

Third-line forcing is a type of exclusive dealing conduct prohibited by the Trade Practices Act. It involves the supply of goods or services on condition that the purchaser acquires goods or services from a particular third party.

By lodging a notification with the ACCC, businesses may obtain protection from legal proceedings under the Act. Provided the ACCC does not object, protection commences 14 days after lodgment.

Under the Act, the ACCC will only object to and remove the immunity provided by an exclusive dealing notification when it is satisfied that any public benefits from the proposed arrangement would not outweigh the public detriments.

"The ACCC has considered a range of information including analyses by the Productivity Commission and PricewaterhouseCoopers, as well as the experience at other ports around Australia. Based on the information available, the ACCC considers that the Port of Gladstone is likely to be most efficiently served by a single towage provider," Samuel says.

As with any notification, the ACCC may review this notification at a later stage should concerns arise. The assessment of the notification will be available from the ACCC's website, www.accc.gov.au, under the authorisations and notifications public register.

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