Logistics News

Shipping lines back probe into state of ports

SAL gives thumbs up to Productivity Commission initiative announced by PM


Industry body Shipping Australia Ltd (SAL), a noted critic of Australian port efficiency, has backed prime minister Scott Morrison’s announcement that the Productivity Commission would investigate the sector.

Morrison “quite correctly” noted that the nation’s ports are the gateway for the economy and that port inefficiency was “a tax on all Australians”, the body that has international container shipping lines in its membership highlighted.

“Our container ports can take days to get a ship to berth,” it said.

“Our container ports take a long time to process ships. Our slowest port takes up to 51.7 hours of on-berth time versus our ‘fastest’ port which takes 29.2 hours to process a box ship, according to the recent ACCC Container Stevedoring Monitoring Report.

“That’s a 55.6% difference between the slowest and fastest port.

“Our container ports don’t work fast enough. The average crane rate is about 28 box moves an hour but it can be as slow as 12 or 13 box moves per hour per crane.”

Read how the prime minister wieighed in on port ports, here

SAL pointed out that this compared unfavourably with the likes of Israel’s Haifa port, which is able to complete 53 box, or container, movements an hour.

It criticises the rate of improvement over the past 20 years, noting that since 2000/01, this has improved by just three containers an hour, from 25 to 28, according to Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) figures.

“When box volumes have increased from about 2.5 million to about 8.5 million in the same time frame, poor port performance can only lead to congestion and supply chain disappointment,” SAL said.

The body also took a veiled swipe at state stewardship of ports.

“There is also an issue with oversight and governance of ports in Australia.

The port governance system in Australia needs a bit of an overhaul.

“Shipping Australia calls for consultations on good quality port governance and oversight system, which must include price monitoring that is tied to port performance.

“If Australian families are to keep, and improve upon, their current standard of living, then Australian ports must work both harder and smarter.

“Shipping Australia calls upon Australian box ports to rise to the challenge.”

It calls upon Australian box ports to:

  • get ships to berth faster
  • process cargo faster by getting those crane rates up
  • reduce idle time at berth
  • reduce the overall turnaround time of ships.


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