VTA calls on stevedores to get spend in order


Victorian peak body wants greater landside investments, following ACCC report

VTA calls on stevedores to get spend in order
Peter Anderson

 

The Victorian Transport Association (VTA) is urging a higher rate of landside investments by container stevedores at the nation’s major ports.

The call follows the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) annual Container Stevedore Monitoring Report that confirmed infrastructure charges paid by transport operators are responsible for a "growing proportion" of stevedore revenues.

The VTA notes that the report ACCC examines the performance of stevedores operating at Australia’s ports during the last financial year. Among the key findings:

  • a general weakening of the economy has seen demand for stevedoring services decline, evidenced by a drop in crane lifts for only the second time in a decade
  • higher infrastructure charges are driving unit revenue growth for the stevedores. The industry generated $167 million in revenue from infrastructure charges last financial year – an increase of 63 per cent
  • some industry profitability indicators fell in 2018-19, continuing a trend from recent years. Industry operating profit fell by 4.7 per cent to $81.3 million and operating profit margin fell to 5.9 per cent; and
  • key indicators of quayside productivity went up by more than 5 per cent, with the productivity of Australian container ports now on par with international ports of similar size and characteristics.

VTA CEO Peter Anderson says that whilst it is encouraging for industry that quayside productivity indicators have increased, the association is concerned stevedores are not making the required investments that would see similar productivity gains for landside operators servicing the ports.


Read how the ACCC’s report again raised infrastructure surcharges issues, here


"The ACCC report showed truck turnaround times actually worsened to an average of 29.3 minutes nationally," Anderson says.

"This is despite stevedores continuing to introduce - and increase - infrastructure surcharges across their terminals.

"As the ACCC report makes clear, landside transport operators are effectively underwriting the profitability and revenue of stevedores through the proliferation of infrastructure charges.

"The problem for operators is that in a monopolistic trading environment there are limitations in how they can respond to those charges, in contrast to the competitive market in which stevedores provide services to shipping lines.

"If stevedores are to continue with their program of increasing infrastructure charges, it is incumbent on them to make the appropriate investments across their terminal networks so that productivity and efficiency gains can flow through to road transport operators servicing the ports."

Meanwhile, the Queensland Trucking Association (QTA) points to another area of concern – truck turnaround times (TTO).

"The ACCC report showed truck turnaround times have worsened to an average of 29.3 minutes nationally," the QTA says.

"This is despite stevedores continuing to introduce – and increase – infrastructure surcharges across their terminals."

It has similar concerns to the VTA on how stevedores' use their unfettered power over access.

The report can be found here.

 

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