Prime minister Scott Morrison has announced a Productivity Commission examination of the nation’s defective ports logistics system in a virtual address Australian Industry Group (AiG) last week.
Unregulated landslide charges, imposts from stevedores and basic market carelessness, has increased scrutiny on the container line industry domestically and its international operations.
The port container logistics sector has been a point of conjecture for years, but recent spates of unregulated charges have seen local and export costs rise against a backdrop of pandemic-induced trade disruption and industrial action.
Morrison advised that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is already conducting its own review of international container shipping and handling, and the current protection allowed under Part X of the federal Competition and Consumer Act.
“In light of the recent ACCC Container Monitoring Report, the Government is also examining broader issues associated with the relative productivity of Australian ports,” Morrison told the AiG.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Container Stevedoring Monitoring Report 2020-21 noted a concurrence of issues, however the primary concern being that given the shipping industry has been transformed through more market power and bigger ships, the current port regulation is inadequate.
“Ports are the gateway for our economy. Inefficient ports are a tax on all of us,” Morrison added.
“And we are taking action by improving port productivity through infrastructure projects, tackling regulatory inefficiencies at the Australian border through the Simplified Trade System – which will streamline compliance costs for Australian importers and exporters while replacing legacy ICT systems.
“This is not an enquiry that I see going on for a long time. I want to see this back here by the middle of the year.”
International container shipping and handling costs have increased dramatically, and in some instances up to 300 per cent during the last 12 months.