Protect port users from privatisation hikes: VTA


Victorian Transport Association welcomes a privatised port in Melbourne, but only if users are protected from excessive rate rises

Protect port users from privatisation hikes: VTA
Peter Anderson wants care taken over privatisation impacts.

 

The Victorian Transport Association (VTA) remains in favour of the plan to privatise the Port of Melbourne, but says the state government will need to make amendments to the enabling legislation.

CEO Peter Anderson told the VTA’s Port Outlook seminar this morning that members have concerns about the potential for excessive cost hikes under the currently proposed laws.

"We remain to be convinced that operational improvements and efficiencies will be a by-product of privatisation," Anderson says.

"[But] the current legislation could adversely affect freight operators through excessive cost increases.

"We are also concerned the Government may accept an inflated price for the lease, requiring a new operator to increase fees and charges to maintain margins.

"And with the new operator having an effective monopoly over the port, users will have little choice but to accept the increases, or leave the port altogether."

Anderson says legislation enabling the port’s long-term lease should be amended to protect port users from price increases that could ultimately be detrimental to the wider state and national economies.

He urged both the government and state opposition to set aside their differences on the issue to ensure a workable compromise is reached.

"The politics of the port will be sorted in time, but our main priority as the peak transport industry group is to achieve policy and conditions that benefit freight operators," he says.

"This extends to fair fees and charges, better road and rail access infrastructure, and attaining a port environment that invites larger volumes and more efficient movement of freight."

The VTA Port Outlook seminar aimed to bring together a range of stakeholders in the Victorian port network, including road and wharf transport operators, stevedores, and government representatives. Speakers have included ports minister Luke Donnellan, Farmers Federation president Peter Tuohey, and DP World’s chief commercial officer Max Kruse.

Around 120 delegates registered for the event, which will culminate in a boat tour of the Port of Melbourne.

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