Tasmania looks for ACCC help on Melbourne port rent

The State Government wants the federal competition regulator to act, but the ACCC says its hands are tied

Tasmania looks for ACCC help on Melbourne port rent
Peter Gutwein has made his feelings known federally


The Tasmanian state government has referred planned increases in rents at the Port of Melbourne to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

State treasurer Peter Gutwein says stevedores are facing increases of close to 800 per cent, and receiving very little in return.

He is concerned the new rents are aimed only at increasing the sale price of the Port of Melbourne when it is privatised by the Victorian state government.

Still, the ACCC says it has no authority to take action at the moment.

"The ACCC’s only formal role at this stage is the direction from the [federal consumer affairs] minister to monitor and provide an annual report on the container stevedoring industry," a commission spokesperson tells ATN.

It does also have an advocacy role that aims to ensure privatisation strategies are completed with a focus on the consumer’s interest.

"In terms of advocacy the ACCC has been pointing out its concerns regarding allowing monopoly infrastructure providers to significantly increase prices just prior to or after privatisation," the spokesperson says.

The regulator’s most recent container stevedoring report raised concerns around port privatisations and the public statements of Asciano and Qube.

"Business will generally operate more efficiently in private hands, however, if a state government’s privatisation goal is to maximise the sale price, this quickly becomes an effective ‘tax’ on future generations," the report notes.

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