Road Freight NSW expresses caution over Port Botany review

The scope and purpose for the Independent Review of the Ports and Maritime Administration Act 1995 (PAMA Act) and Port Botany Landside Improvement Strategy (PBLIS) has been released after the NSW government announced a comprehensive review of the PAMA Act and PBLIS last month.

Covering a key part of the state’s framework for ports and maritime management, the review will tackle inefficiencies and support NSW industry and jobs growth.

The Port Botany review is separate from the broader maritime logictics review being conducted by the Productivity Commission, which was requested through the National Transport Commission (NTC) in relation to stevedore charges and the other at the behest of the Australian Industry Group.

Road Freight NSW (RFNSW) CEO Simon O’Hara said he recognises the matter of stevedore charges is a national economic concern and as such has been referred to for consideration by the federal government given it will be “out of scope for this particular review.”

O’Hara said that PBLIS is essential for the continued operation of Port Botany in a productive manner and the last thing RFNSW wants to see is a return to lines of trucks of up to 8 hours.

“PBLIS delivers the most productive port in the country,” said O’Hara.

“What we saw in years past were significant line-ups of trucks seeking to pick up or drop off containers for up to 6 hours or more. So much that operators used to deliver pizzas to drivers.”

“Since then, PBLIS has resolved that issue and no allows turnaround times of anywhere between 17 to 33 minutes, which is a significant productivity improvement, and we wouldn’t want to see that changed in any shape or form.”

Given NSW and the rest of Australia is only just emerging from Covid, O’Hara is wary of any review that may jeopardise or delay containers out of the port. Whilst RFNSW is open to review, the organisation has taken the ‘if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it approach’.

‘There are real questions here given that PBLIS operates to ensure productivity at the port,” said O’Hara.

“Anything that would delay trucks further at Port Botany would be not only counter-productive for the freight industry, but also NSW at large.”

RFNSW will be putting forward a submission and will be consulting and engaging extensively with their membership around the issue of the PBLIS review.

“Specifically, we are an advocate for PBLIS, because it delivers productivity through regulation, not only for NSW but for the broader Australian economy,” said O’Hara.

“There are tweaks there that we could look at, but the last thing we want to see is a delineation of what has been a very effective piece of regulation.”

The discussion paper covering the scope and purpose for the independent review can be found online here.

Formal consultation with stakeholders will commence in the new year, however, feedback and comment can be provided online here from now until March 4.

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