Ports body pushes cooperation to end bottlenecks

Ports Australia throws weight behind push for industry solutions to fix bottlenecks

By Rob McKay | June 28, 2010

As trucking and other supply-chain players seek industry solutions to container bottlenecks surrounding ports, peak body Ports Australia (PA) has thrown its weight behind greater cooperation amongst them in the name of efficiency.

In an updated submission to Infrastructure Australia, which is overseeing the National Ports Strategy, PA insisted that "access, regulation and planning should be "first tier issues".

"On the question of productivity measures raised in the strategy document, Ports Australia confirms that its members involved in the container trades are continuing to work together at senior management level to develop a collective approach to securing improvements in container supply performance, including through more effective application of IT to freight management," the PA submission, which does not appear in IA’s list of published submissions but obtained by ATN, says.

"The ultimate purpose of this initiative is to speed up the movement of containers through the chain through more efficient communication and messaging between the parties, particularly as volumes grow and stresses on landside infrastructure become more intense.

"Part of this initiative will be to engage with agencies to determine where government interventions, if any, can best assist the ports community and other stakeholders to implement these types of measures."

PA had earlier made plain to IA the importance ports place in national solutions to container supply chain efficiency, with hazardous goods management and reporting a current priority.

The ports body believes the lack of mechanisms for the transport and logistics industry to be harnessed in pursuit of efficiencies is a market failure in need of some sort of government facilitation.

While acknowledging the chilling effect the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission can have on cooperation between companies and the ACCC’s reluctance to take the role of a facilitator itself, PA believes the watchdog might be willing to provide guidance.

The Victorian Transport Association and container line body Shipping Australia, with the backing of the Port of Melbourne Corporation, have formed two working groups to tackle empty container management issues in an effort being watched closely by NSW and Western Australian operators.

The Victorian effort began in March in the hope of avoiding government involvement.

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