Port customers put charges hikes in play


Customers look to ACCC, ACC and Tasmanian Governments to help protect them from price hikes at privatised ports

Port customers put charges hikes in play
DP World CEO Paul Scurrah.

 

Privatised ports are raising their rents and charges, but customers are fighting back.

In the last few months alone, users of two different ports have called on the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to oversee the sector.

Swiss-based commodities broker Glencore has asked the National Competition Council to get the ACCC to look at the pricing regime at the Port of Newcastle.

This follows significant price rises since the port was privatised last year.

It follows on from a freedom of information request from stevedore DP World at the Port of Melbourne.

It is asking the Victorian Government for access to documents that relate to its rent arrangements there.

With a lease on the facility in the process of being sold, DP World says it has received notice of a planned rent hike in excess of 767 per cent.

While Port of Melbourne is not yet privatised, plans are underway for a long-term lease of the facility.

The introduction of a third stevedore – paying significantly higher rents – is believed by some to be evidence of the Port of Melbourne Corporation effectively pumping up the potential price for lease.

DP World has also got the Tasmanian Government in its corner.

CEO Paul Scurrah last week met with Tasmanian treasurer Peter Gutwein and infrastructure minister Rene Hidding, who are concerned the increased rent will flow through to Tasmanian export businesses.

"The real risk here is the charges that relate to the containers going through the Port of Melbourne will increase astronomically," Scurrah says.

"You'll see what will amount to be a big fat tax on Tasmanian consumers imposed by the Victorian Government."

The NCC will take up to six months to decide on Glencore’s case.

"The council has 180 days within which to complete its consideration of this application and make its recommendation to the designated minister," it says.

It is now accepting written submissions from stakeholders on both sides of the issue.

 

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