PRICE INCREASES: Drivers move shipping containers at the Port of Brisbane.
PRICE INCREASES: Drivers move shipping containers at the Port of Brisbane. Kirstin Payne

Port operaters slammed with second price hike

LIKE Groundhog Day, transport operators at the ports have again been slammed by further price rises from DP World.

Botany, Melbourne and Brisbane have each been notified of further rises from January 1, 2018, the second fee hike placed on carriers in less than a year.

The move came just days after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission reported its concern about stevedore price rises and its impact on transport companies.

The price rises garnered criticism from many involved in the sector.

Road Freight NSW General Manager Simon O'Hara described the latest price hike as outrageous.

"Once again, the latest price gouge has been cynically blamed on so-called 'increased costs' at the port, but the ACCC has already acknowledged that extra taxes could earn DPWA and Patrick a combined revenue of $70million, equivalent to a 5-6 per cent increase in unit revenues," Mr O'Hara said.

"The ACCC also noted that 'unit costs for both stevedores remain stable', so from our perspective there is simply no justification for yet another price hike - it's nothing but a greedy cash grab from DPWA."

Shadow assistant treasurer Andrew Leigh claimed the ACCC needed to be "unshackled".

"Labor looks forward to the ACCC undertaking a thorough analysis of the dynamics of this market, the level of infrastructure investment, to determine whether these increases are consistent with our competition laws, and the extent to which revenue from the new charges is likely to more than offset cost increases associated with terminal rents, government taxes and rates," Mr Leigh said.

"This episode is a further reminder of the value of Labor's proposal to give the consumer watchdog a fully independent market studies function, so it can investigate these concerns immediately."

Equally the Victorian Transport Association (VTA) has urged the Essential Services Commission, a state-based body to investigate infrastructure surcharge pricing at the Port of Melbourne.

"The landside freight industry has been given no increase in productivity and is once again being made to bear the burden directly within a monopolistic environment," VTA CEO Peter Anderson said.

"While this pricing remains unregulated this type of increase will only incite adversarial reaction from an integral part of the supply chain.

"Increases like this are difficult to manage in this industry where operators are already doing it tough through low margins and higher compliance costs."

Mr Anderson described the infrastructure increases as an effective revenue transfer.

Mr Anderson said the VTA would write to the ESC encouraging it to act.

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