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RFNSW raises alert as facility access surcharges spread

Qube airport access fee follows port infrastructure imposts from stevedores


Trucking companies are swiftly becoming the ‘bagmen’ of choice for freight facility owners seeking to recoup rising costs through access fees, trucking industry representative bodies indicate.

Terminals and logistics firm Qube, whose stevedoring arm Patrick has joined rival DP World in introducing an ‘infrastructure surcharge’ at ports, has extended it to mainland airports through an ‘International Terminal Fee’ (ITF) for Qube Logistics (QL).


“The introduction of the International Terminal Fee is necessitated by significant cost increases incurred by QL since 2014, including higher rent, land tax & energy costs, increased labour costs and property maintenance costs relating to the upkeep of the respective facilities thus allowing QL to maintain a high standard of service to its customers,” QL national business development manager Jack Moore writes in a letter to customers.

“Throughout this period QL has avoided passing these costs through the supply chain, however given the market conditions of the container freight station sector, specifically the volume fluctuations of inbound containers and moreover QL’s requirement to continue investing in tis facilities, it is left with no alternative but to introduce this fee.

“The international Terminal Fee will be payable at the time of collection and will be billed on a per gate pass basis (i.e. lowest house bill).

“QL will ensure the necessary payment facilities are available at the aforementioned locations, thus enabling transactions to be completed.”

The fee is a flat $30 in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Fremantle.


Road Freight NSW (RFNSW) general manager Simon O’Hara says it has sought an urgent meeting with QL to clarify how the ITF will impact on truck companies transporting air freight cargo.

 “There’s been no consultation with RFNSW, so it’s important that we sit down with QUBE and ask them for a please explain,” O’Hara says.

“Qube has advised that that the fee will be payable at the time a shipment is collected and billed per gate pass, but we still need clarification about how it’s actually going to work.

“We’re obviously concerned that any additional impost will cause further cash flow issues for our members who have already experienced financial losses as a result of recent port taxes unjustifiably imposed on them by stevedores.

“RFNSW is asking Qube to engage with industry before this new fee is added to supply chain costs.”

RFNSW and others have raised the issue and where it might lead with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

“RFNSW warned the ACCC when they met with them that there would be a ‘proliferation’ of fees and charges if DPW was allowed to get away with the first port tax,” O’Hara tells ATN.

“There has been fair warning.” 


Western Australian Road Transport Association (WARTA) executive officer Cam Dumesny, which has teamed up with RFNSW in a bid to resist such charges, also highlights the ramifications.

“The road transport industry is increasingly used as a ‘soft touch for revenue’ by more powerful parties in the supply chain,” Dumesny tells ATN.

“The industry must unite to fight back against these charges. 

“It is absolutely essential that an independent umpire be established to review any related port charges. 

“Its remit should also include port leases and key performance indicators which are being used as the key reason driving the charges being imposed on transport operators.”


National operator representative body NatRoad confirms it has not been consulted on the introduction of this new surcharge.

“It seems to be an extension of recent decisions by stevedores to hit transport businesses with unjustified container surcharges at ports. So now they are doing it at airports too,” NatRoad industry and policy advisor Julia Collins says.

“This is why NatRoad is calling on the Australian Government to set up an independent price regulator for heavy vehicle charges and this must include greater transparency and scrutiny in relation to the setting of port charges and tolls imposed on heavy vehicle operators.”


A spokesman for New South Wales roads, maritime and freight minister Melinda Pavey gives the complaint short shrift, telling ATN: “This is a commercial decision of a private company.”

Other federal and state industry and political responses have been sought.


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