Small operators raise concern over port reform

Trend toward larger trucking firms is accelerating and will not be affected by proposed Fremantle Port reform: Transport Forum WA

By Rob McKay | July 23, 2010

The trend towards larger trucking firms is accelerating and will not be affected by a decision either way on dual run preferencing by Fremantle stevedores, Transport Forum WA CEO Ian King has told ATN.

King was responding to a submission the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

While awaiting a final determination, DP World and Patrick have sought interim authorisation from the ACCC to give precedence to trucks delivering and collecting containers per trip to the port.

The ACCC has nine submissions on the interim authorisation. They are from peak bodies and state and federal agencies predominantly but include one from intermodal east-west freight business Jayde Transportation.

They are unanimous in their support for the move, bar that of critic Gary
Davies, who says such a move will benefit the stevedores and big transport concerns to the detriment of smaller players and owner-drivers.

"The arrangement advocated in the application will clearly have a significant and detrimental affect on competition in relation to road transport companies serving the container trades in Fremantle," Davies says.

He is critical of the 1-Stop vehicle booking system, saying it is being used "as a mechanism to punish road transport companies that, on occasion, are unable to comply" with the demand for orderly arrival at terminal gates.

He cast public interest claims for the move as "dubious".

By contrast, Jayde General Manager Steve Gabrovec backs the interim authorisation in anticipation of a more detailed submission on the substantive issue.

But he says this will contain a critique of empty container park performance following P&O Trans Australia’s takeover of Baguley in 2008 and a call more checks and balances.

King says the change in profile of the industry is inevitable and the Davies submission reflects that.

"It’s going to happen- the big are going to get bigger and the small are going to get smaller," he adds, pointing to recent alliances and takeovers in the state involving services the north.

"I think it’s a general statement about what’s going to happen."

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