Tassie cries foul over port licence fee


The Tasmanian Government is threatening a constitutional challenge against Victoria’s proposed licence fee for the Port of Melbourne

February 21, 2012

The Tasmanian Government is threatening a constitutional challenge against Victoria’s proposed licence fee for the Port of Melbourne.

The fee is due to begin on July 1 and raise $75 million in its first year, but Tasmania claims the move is not in line with the Essential Services Commission’s Price Monitoring Determination for Victorian Ports 2010 report.

Tasmanian Infrastructure Minister David O’Byrne has written to Ports Minister Denis Napthine claiming the fee could lead to job losses or be considered a constraint against trade between states, and therefore contrary to the Australian Constitution.

Opposition spokesman on ports Tim Pallas, who has objected to the fee, says the Tasmanian Government has warned the tax could have a detrimental impact on producers and consumers of about $10 million a year.

"The Baillieu Government tax will raise $75 million for state government coffers with no benefit for the industry, Port of Melbourne or consumers," Pallas says.

"It has failed to produce a plan for road, rail and port infrastructure improvements to be funded from this tax.

"It is consumers who will bear the brunt of the tax slug with higher prices for whitegoods, cars, tractors and food and other products as business will be forced to pass on costs."

When in government, Pallas supported a toll on trucks entering the port to fund infrastructure upgrades. It was met with widespread opposition among industry groups and the union movement.

Pallas is calling on the government to release all regulatory and the business impact statements on the port licence fee to explain what impact it will have on inflation, employment and the port’s competitiveness.

The Port of Melbourne Head of Corporation Relations Peter Harry declined to comment.





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