Renewed call to Patrick for consultation on HPFV ‘tax’


Cost of ‘long vehicle fee’ at Sydney and Brisbane ports estimated

Renewed call to Patrick for consultation on HPFV ‘tax’
The 'long vehicle fee' could cost each truck more than $100,000 a year

 

With Patrick Terminals pressing ahead with new fees on differing combinations, container haulage entities are highlighting the lack of consultation state governments are promising in their pursuit of a light touch on port issues.

The Patrick hikes and imposts are the latest in a long line of stevedore increases raising the cost of using ports but now with an added granularity as it refines its landside revenue stream by targeting high productivity freight vehicles (HPFVs), through a ‘long vehicle fee’ and sideloaders.

The leeching of HPFV gains around ports from those who invest in the likes of A-doubles and Super B-doubles to stevedores continues to alarm haulage body Container Transport Alliance Australia (CTAA), which has taken to calling it a "tax on productivity".

Presently centred on Port of Brisbane and Port Botany, CTAA estimates the ‘long vehicle fee’ will "cost operators between $36,000 and $108,000 per HPFV vehicle annually, netting Patrick millions of dollars in added revenue", based on two to six turns per vehicle entry over 360-day operations per year.

"No valid justification has been provided to transport operators by Patrick for the introduction of the ‘long vehicle fee’ in Sydney and Brisbane," CTAA director Neil Chambers states.

"Also, despite overtures to Patrick’s senior management, no opportunity has been given for a collaborative discussion on how to address road transport / terminal interface improvements without the need for this new fee.

"This new ‘tax’ is also unlikely to lead to transport operators curtailing the use of HPFVs.

"Transport operators large and small have invested significantly in these productive vehicle combinations – costing upwards of $500,000 per vehicle combination –so their ‘sunk costs’ are enormous.

"The productivity benefits of HPFVs have been enjoyed by transport operators and their import and export customers for some time now through lower unit costs, greater volume productivity, enhanced on-road safety and more environmentally friendly operations for the given freight task.

"This ‘tax’ erodes those benefits and will simply lead to higher landside transport costs for no gain in productivity, efficiency or service levels."


Read about how Victoria’s view on port terminal costs has been critiqued, here


CTAA reiterates its call for the ‘long vehicle fee’ and Patrick to meet with haulage firms to address how HPFVs are operated to and from Patrick’s Autostrad Terminals in Sydney and Brisbane.

"If there are operational productivity and efficiency issues to be addressed regarding the use of HPFVs within Patrick’s terminals, then let’s address them collaboratively without the imposition of the ‘long vehicle fee’," Chambers says.

The Victorian governments has taken the lead on  Australian state responses to port pricing issues through its creation of the Voluntary Pricing Protocol (VPP) as part of its Voluntary Port Performance Model (VPPM) but continues to resist ATN requests to explain the reasoning for rejecting regulation.

"We conducted the most comprehensive review of port pricing ever undertaken by a state government and introduced voluntary standards to improve pricing transparency," a spokesperson says.

"The Voluntary Pricing Protocol has been in place since 1 July 2020 and this protocol is being closely monitored.

"Factors leading to increased costs across the Victorian port supply chain are national challenges impacting all ports.

"Should the voluntary protocol be ineffective, economic regulation may be considered."

But government sources come close to justifying stevedores use of fees on those who aren’t their customers but include exporters and consumers by pointing to "relatively large increases to fixed port rents, equipment costs, labour and other items".

They note Patrick’s indication that it will adhere to the VPP and its 60-day notice period for increases and that notice periods and protocol adherence will be "monitored over time".

On charges more efficient truck and trailer combinations at Port of Melbourne, they says they are unaware of any such intention by Patrick.

 

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