Albanese weighs in on facility access surcharges

By: Rob McKay

Labor heavy hitter expresses concern for smaller operators and calls for consultation

Albanese weighs in on facility access surcharges
Anthony Albanese has surcharges concerns


Federal opposition transport spokesman Anthony Albanese has made plain his concern over the threatened proliferation of terminal access charges and their impact on smaller trucking firms especially.

Albanese’s comments come after federal transport minister Darren Chester and New South Wales freight minister Melinda Pavey refused to rate haulage and supply chain concerns about surcharges on third party and non-contracted stakeholders.

"I am concerned about the effect these charges will have on small trucking operators, given many are family run and operate on very tight margins," Albanese tells ATN.

This aspect was highlighted by Road Freight NSW in its campaign against DP World and Patrick ‘infrastructure surcharges’

While the fact of the access surcharges clearly irk those forced to pay them, they have also been critical of the way they have been introduced, with the lack of consultation and difficult time frames a common theme in their criticism.

These were points Albanese also took up.

"The terminal operators should consult the trucking industry properly and work collaboratively rather than making unilateral decisions," he says.

NSW opposition roads and freight spokesperson Jodi McKay is on the same page as Albanese.

McKay has been a critic of her state’s path to port lease privatisation and its effect on costs and competition in the past.

This has morphed towards examining the impacts of multiple public tolls small trucking firms will be forced to pay as legal sanctions put otherwise free routes to Port Botany out of bounds through swingeing fines.

McKay has been using state parliament estimates hearings to highlight what she casts as "fee on fee on fee" either related to or contiguous with the WestConnex project affecting trucking firm bottom lines and impacting general cost of living levels.

Earlier this month, it emerged that construction firm Lendlease had placed an unsolicited proposal with the state government to build Sydney Gateway at St Peters, close to the port and airport entrances, with the tolling option dependent on if it is part of WestConnex or a new project.  

She is also concerned at the opaque arguments surrounding multiplying toll charges for trucks in WestConnex and NorthConnex, with estimates hearing evidence being that it was based on following a "trend".

The push to continuing toll hikes for trucks.

She tells ATN a small trucking operator had told her at a Transport Workers Union conference that they were now "adding about $15,000 a year in terms of costs to his business.

"So the big guys, I would think, are going to be hit very, very hard," McKay says.

The direction the facility access surcharge struggle will now take in unclear, though the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO), Kate Carnell is open to facilitating discussion between the parties


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