Competition czar Rod Sims has suggested the market regulator will address recent spikes in the price of container movements through Australian ports.
Major stevedores DP World and Patrick both recently ramped up the prices charged to freight operators moving containers through terminals in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth, citing higher costs, especially in terms of cost of land.
The trucking industry has expressed its extreme disappointment in the changes.
And now Sims, chairman of the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission, has suggested the watchdog may look to intervene.
Speaking with The Australian this week, Sims reportedly recognised infrastructure fees had “gone up a lot and they seem to have gone up a lot more than costs have gone up”.
The ACCC monitors business on the waterfront, and has done since the famous 1998 disputes between Patrick and its unionised workforce.
“We are just not sure, apart from increasing profits, what the rationale for those charges is,” Sims said, reportedly. “So that is something we are going to be focusing on a lot more.”
Patrick on March 12 lifted fees at its Port Botany terminal in Sydney from $25.45 to $41.10 per container. This followed a similar increase by DP World last year, which increased its fee to $37.65.
Both stevedores have also recently increased fees at Fremantle, where Patrick now charges $7.50 per box, and DP world charges $8.22. At Brisbane, the fee is now $38.25 at Patrick and $38.75 at DP World.
At Melbourne, Patrick now charges $47.50, and DP World charges $49.20. Melbourne operation VICT, which competes there with the two majors, charges $52.80 per box.