SRT heads those flagging Melbourne port concern

By: Ruza Zivkusic-Aftasi

Supply chain service providers and customers fear privatisation will mean extra costs

SRT heads those flagging Melbourne port concern
Tasmanian logistics: fearing cost hikes from port leaseholder


Refrigerated transport carrier SRT Logistics fears the privatisation of the Port of Melbourne will push up prices for Tasmanian exporters and importers.

The Hobart based operator ships around 90 per cent of its freight on TT-Line’s Spirit of Tasmania ferry, and the rest on SeaRoad Logistics’ two ships.

SRT General Manager Robert Miller says any increase in costs will have to be passed on to customers.

The port faces a medium-term lease as the Victorian Government plans to fund its infrastructure spending elsewhere.

"I don’t think the Tasmanian economy is in a position for anyone to be any worse off than what they already are so whatever changes they make it will hurt," Miller says.

"Some of our customers are a little nervous and will have to wait and see what happens.

"It doesn’t change what we do it just means that it’s more cost we have to pass on to our customers but I guess in Tasmania it’s producers on the island that ship out to the mainland that end up wearing the cost of it."

Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Chief Executive Jan Davis says farmers have no option but to send produce through the port and believes the impact on Tasmania will be "immense".

"Tasmania is the biggest single customer of the Port of Melbourne. Up to 30 per cent of freight passing through the port is dispatched from or destined for Tasmania," Davis says.

"Nearly half of that – 12 per cent of all movements comes from Tasmanian farmers.

"Handing that gateway to a private corporation that’s driven by shareholder returns raises serious alarm bells for Tasmanian farmers who have no real alternative for shipping their products," she adds.

"We’re urging the Tasmanian Premier to make representations to his Victorian counterpart to ensure that measures are put in place to prevent exploitation of what is essentially a captive customer base."

Tasmanian Logistics Committee Chairman Steve Henty says any change shipping costs will affect the competitiveness of Tasmanian producers.

"I can’t see the prices of the cost of accessing the Port of Melbourne coming down under the private operator but traditionally privatisation leads to efficiencies but the question is where the benefit of those will go," Henty says.

"The question is what role does this port licence fee have and will the Victorian Government continue to collect that if that licence fee is under the guides of improving port infrastructure."

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