Peak body Road Freight NSW (RFNSW) has welcomed the State Opposition’s support to stop ‘exorbitant’ port surcharges unfairly imposed on truck operators at Port Botany and its pledge to work with RFNSW in a review of exemptions for the luxury-vehicle tax. Opposition Leader Michael Daley and Shadow Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Jodi McKay said landside prices and charges had ‘escalated rapidly without explanation or justification’ and promised to put an end to ‘unfettered and unfair pricing practices’ at the port, if elected on Saturday. “On behalf of our members, RFNSW is pleased the Opposition has listened and acted on the concerns of our members. It’s time industry had a fair and robust price monitoring system at the port,” RFNSW’s chief executive Simon O’Hara said. “For over two years now, RFNSW has been fighting hard to raise awareness of these mounting surcharges imposed by the stevedores and their crippling financial impact on truck operators. It’s out of control. “We’ve said all along there must be an independent body called in to regulate infrastructure and other landside charges, which is why we welcome the Opposition’s pledge to formalise the involvement of IPART in the setting of port charges.” Mr O’Hara said RFNSW was pleased that Ms McKay had responded to industry concerns over the luxury vehicle tax, stating that the ALP would maintain ‘all current exemptions and concessions, including those for heavy trailers.’ “Following our ongoing advocacy and dialogue on behalf of our members, Ms McKay has assured us that the Opposition is committed to a review of those exemptions, in order to protect the trucking industry and will work with RFNSW as part of that review,” he added.
Trucks awaiting entry to one of Port Botany’s container yards. ABC photo.
Peak body Road Freight NSW (RFNSW) says it is unfair that truck operators already reeling from mounting port access fees have now been slugged with new charges for pick-ups and drop-offs at Sydney container parks. From February 1, if a truck arrives at DP World Logistics more than 60 minutes prior to the start of the nominated ‘Notification Window’, the carrier will be forced to pay an ‘Off Window Surcharge’ of $25.50 per booking. If a truck arrives more than 60 minutes after the end of the nominated slot, the carrier will also incur the same $25.50 ‘Off Window Surcharge’. If a truck arrives within its ‘Notification Window’, the charge will be $16.50. RFNSW chief executive Simon O’Hara said its members are asking why the new surcharges are being imposed on carriers given that the operation of empty container parks appear to be “inefficient, unproductive and haphazard”. “It’s a new year and another new surcharge for truck operators,” Mr O’Hara said. “Our members are angry and frustrated they’ve been hit with further fees which are making their daily operations unsustainable. “Notification windows for truck arrivals aren’t always available at short notice and it’s unfair that the length of time drivers may sit waiting in the rank waiting to be processed isn’t taken in to account when these surcharges are being applied. “That’s why our members believe the penalties are unwarranted and yet another cost impost, on top of the new DP World infrastructure fee of $63.80 per container at the Port Botany terminal, which came in to effect on January 1. “The quantum of these charges is impacting carriers and making it harder and harder for them to run their businesses.” Mr O’Hara said RFNSW will be meeting with DP World Logistics today in order to raise its concerns on behalf of its members.
Stevedore Patrick recently advised road and rail freight operators of plans to increase infrastructure surcharges at its terminals from 12 March. The new rates are as follow: Melbourne: $47.50 per box Sydney: $41.10 per box Brisbane: $38.25 per box Fremantle: $7.50 per box The increases will apply to both road and rail transport operators for full import and export container movements at the terminals, and will be “subject to an annual review,” with any price change to apply from 1 July 2018. Road operators will continue to be invoiced electronically via 1-Stop. The Victorian Transport Association (VTA) has written to members to urge them to pass on infrastructure surcharge increases, saying ultimately consumers must bear the brunt of supply-chain cost increases. “Operators continue to face unprecedented increases to infrastructure and road-user charges in and around the Port of Melbourne,” said VTA CEO, Peter Anderson. “It is vital these and other cost-of-business increases are absorbed through the supply chain for freight businesses to remain sustainable and viable in a competitive trading environment,” he said. “The VTA has long argued that consumers need to understand that price increases brought about by higher business and transactional costs will ultimately have to be passed on to them because businesses already operating to tight margins will go out of business if they try and absorb the costs,” said Anderson. “Consumers are the ultimate benefactors from receiving goods delivered by the transport industry, and therefore they need to be subjected to the same price increases operators and other participants in the supply chain are required to take on.” Road Freight New South Wales CEO Simon O’Hara has responded to the fee hikes, calling for oversight, accountability and transparency to guide the actions of stevedores. “Patrick’s infrastructure surcharge has gone from zero to $25.45 to $41.10 in less than a year,” he said. “That’s a massive increase with little justification.”
Road Freight NSW (RFNSW) will become an independent organisation from 1 January 2018 “to better serve its New South Wales membership base.” The organisation began as ATA NSW in 2007 and changed its name to Road Freight NSW in 2015. It is currently a subsidiary of the Australian Trucking Association (ATA), and from January will continue to be a member of the organisation. RFNSW will now work independently to campaign on policies affecting the New South Wales transport sector, primarily heavy-vehicle safety, the regulatory regimes stifling business growth and the unwarranted surcharges, like stevedores’ port taxes, being imposed on carriers. Road Freight NSW Chairman Jon Luff said that while the organisation is committed to policy development nationally, there is a need for an independent body in New South Wales to allow strong advocacy at a state level. “We will be the local voice for local truck carriers, providing support and advocacy on behalf of our members, who now include some of the country’s largest transport companies,” he said. “We have enjoyed our collaboration with the ATA and its board, directors and General Council. It’s an exciting time for Road Freight NSW and our membership. It will prove to be a game changer for the sector.” ATA Chair Geoff Crouch said the name Road Freight NSW reflects the organisation’s independent and authoritative viewpoint. “The move underscores the strength of Road Freight NSW and the vital advocacy role it plays across the state,” he said. “It will enable the ATA to better support member-based organisations throughout Australia, and to represent members across all tiers of government. “We operate in a complex regulatory environment and the issues vary across states. Having a member-owned and -operated organisation to represent local members is a big achievement, and critical so all voices can be heard. “Strong advocacy is critical to our members, right across Australia.”
WARTA executive officer Cam Dumesny (left) with RFNSW general manager Simon O”Hara. Road Freight NSW (RFNSW) has joined forces with its interstate counterpart the Western Australian Road Transport Association (WARTA) in a renewed fight against what they believe are unjustified landside surcharges imposed by stevedores at ports across the country. RFNSW general manager Simon O’Hara met with WARTA Executive Officer Cam Dumesny, observing freight movements and out of the Port Botany terminals and getting feedback from carriers about the impact the new levies were having on their day to day operations. “In NSW and WA, truck operators, particularly those smaller, family-run businesses, are hurting,” Mr O’Hara said. “RFNSW and WARTA have now decided to use our collective strength in bringing the stevedores to account, for the sake of our members. “Again, we make the point that at ports across the country, stevedores have imposed these taxes on hardworking truck operators without any regulatory scrutiny. “We are concerned about the dangerous domino effect this has had on industry. Since stevedores started imposing these charges, other operators with significant supply chain power have also begun slugging transport operators. “RFNSW and WARTA believe we need an independent body, ultimately the ACCC, to be called-in to put the brakes on the stevedores and start regulating landside port charges. “We believe the recent Federal Court finding, which allows the ACCC to monitor and regulate pricing at the Port of Newcastle, means the ACCC should be in a position to review the situation at Australia’s ports,” he said. “Accordingly, RFNSW and WARTA will make a joint submission to the ACCC, again calling for an investigation and independent umpire to review any financial charges.”
Road Freight NSW (RFNSW) has joined forces with its interstate counterpart, the Western Australian Road Transport Association (WARTA), in a renewed fight against landside surcharges imposed by stevedores at ports across the country. RFNSW General Manager Simon O’Hara met with WARTA Executive Officer Cam Dumesny on 29 August, observing freight movements and out of the Port Botany terminals and getting feedback from carriers about the impact the new levies were having on their day to day operations. “In New South Wales and Western Australia, truck operators, particularly those smaller, family-run businesses, are hurting,” said O’Hara. “RFNSW and WARTA have now decided to use our collective strength in bringing the stevedores to account, for the sake of our members. He noted that stevedores imposed the “unjustified” taxes on “hardworking truck operators” without any regulatory scrutiny. “We are concerned about the dangerous domino effect this has had on industry,” O’Hara added. “Since stevedores started imposing these charges, other operators with significant supply chain power have also begun slugging transport operators. “RFNSW and WARTA believe we need an independent body, ultimately the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission), to be called in to put the brakes on the stevedores and start regulating landside port charges. “We believe the recent Federal Court finding, which allows the ACCC to monitor and regulate pricing at the Port of Newcastle, means the ACCC should be in a position to review the situation at Australia’s ports,” he said. “Accordingly, RFNSW and WARTA will make a joint submission to the ACCC, again calling for an investigation and independent umpire to review any financial charges.”
At the Sydney Freight and Supply Chain Strategy Forum, held in late July in Eastern Creek by the Hargrave Institute and Regional Development Australia (RDA) – Sydney, a select group were invited to discuss urban freight supply chains in Sydney, the performance of the current freight system, and its projected future performance. Simon O’Hara, General Manager of Road Freight New South Wales (RFNSW) shared several key takeaways from the event, noting that the value of products moved by freight in New South Wales is $200 billion, transport can make up 30 per cent of the final cost of commodities, freight’s value to the New South Wales economy is $66 billion, it accounts for 12 per cent of the state’s gross product and, perhaps most important of all, it is expected to double over the next four decades. Freight challenges discussed included urban encroachment, last mile, rail access competition, freight facility access and heavy-vehicle regulations, he shared. “There were discussions around disruptors to road freight like connected and autonomous vehicles, truck platooning and m2m (machine to machine)/telematics,” O’Hara added. He stated that the increase of volumes at Port Botany and Port Kembla was also in focus. “The figures for the increase are extraordinary with a tripling of container volumes out to 2045,” he said. “It is worth noting 80 per cent of import containers through Port Botany are delivered with a 40km radius of the Port and will continue for the next 40 years. “This means container volumes which sit at 2.3 million (TEU) stretch out to 7.5 TEU at the lower end or 8.4 million TEU at higher end by 2045. The increases are projected based on strong population growth in Sydney and the Illawarra region. “Importantly, infrastructure plays a key role in the requirements for this freight task through Sydney and Western Sydney,” O’Hara added. “Protected and efficient freight corridors are needed, as is a connection of Port Botany to WestConnex.”
Australia’s competition watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), should take over regulating toll road and landside port charges, Ben Maguire CEO of the Australian Truck Association said on 28 July. The Australian Government is considering setting up an independent regulator to control truck and bus registration charges and road user charges that truck and bus operators pay on fuel. Maguire commented that the independent regulator – ultimately the ACCC – should be responsible for toll road and landside port charges as well. “Toll road charges for trucks are growing rapidly,” he added. “Small trucking businesses simply cannot afford them. Although these charges are set by state governments, the arrangements for setting them are not transparent and do not take into account costs across the supply chain. “The ATA and its members have similar concerns about landside port charges. “Earlier in 2017, DP World unilaterally increased the infrastructure surcharge at its Melbourne terminal and imposed a new surcharge of $21.16 per container at its Port Botany terminal. ATA member association Road Freight NSW pointed out that the Port Botany surcharge could cost carriers up to $150,000 per year. “Separately, Patrick increased its existing surcharges this month, and introduced a $4.76 surcharge per container at its Fremantle terminal and a $25.45 surcharge per container at its Port Botany terminal. “These charge increases cannot be avoided by trucking operators – they have not been subject to detailed regulatory scrutiny, they simply build additional costs into Australia’s supply chains. “To fix these problems, heavy-vehicle tolls and landside port charges should be set by the road-price regulator, which should ultimately be the ACCC or a dedicated body established under its Act.” Maguire said governments must start the reform process by fixing the overcharging of truck and bus operators. “Truck and bus operators will be overcharged by $264.8 million in 2017–18. The meter is ticking up by more than $725,000 per day,” he noted. “It’s time for governments to take action and stop overcharging the hard-working small businesses that make up the vast majority of operators in our industry.”
Peak transport body Road Freight NSW (RFNSW) has called on the Federal Government and relevant departments to convene a special industry-led national working group to better educate motorists on interacting with heavy vehicles, in order to reduce the number of road accidents estimated to be costing the Australian economy $33 billion a year. Appearing before the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee inquiring into road safety in Australia, RFNSW General Manager Simon O’Hara said: “Greater engagement and education on the roads, particularly with regard to light vehicles is essential. “Preventable deaths are a tragedy, the question is what we do about it,” Mr O’Hara told the hearing. “RFNSW, along with the ATA, has issued a list of ‘Top 10 Tips’ advising the motoring public on how to drive safely with heavy vehicles on the roads. One of those tips is distracted driving, with studies showing that 80% of collisions are caused by motorists whose attention is taken away from the road by their passengers, phones, GPS, radio, eating drinking and smoking. “Alarmingly, distractions are now deemed to be the single biggest cause of crashes and near misses, with road users who take their eyes off the road for two seconds or longer, doubling their crash risk. If drivers get that message and pay attention, that’s one simple way of trying to achieve safer roads for all users alike. “RFNSW wants safety to be the cornerstone of what truck drivers do each and every day. “RFNSW recommends the establishment of a working committee to scope out better ways to educate light vehicle users and cyclists in their interactions with heavy vehicle users for the purposes of attaining safer roads. We believe appropriate funding also be set aside for greater engagement and public awareness to educate road users and inform them on how to properly interact with heavy vehicles.” At the hearing, Mr O’Hara also raised another critical issue impacting carriers – crippling new surcharges being imposed by stevedores DP World Australia and Patrick on truck operators at Port Botany. “A large proportion of the rationale for these charges, as we understand it, is around rent increases. But only last week we learnt from NSW Ports that rent has actually decreased at the Ports from 2013 (pre-privatisation) to 2017,” he explained. “RFNSW believes these port charges place further pressures on an industry already working with slim profits and costly overheads. This questionable behaviour from the stevedores should be properly explained and built on a firm foundation of empirical evidence that justifies the rationale for this additional financial burden on carriers. Ultimately, the consumer in one form or another pays the cost and if road transport users can’t understand why they are being taxed (and invoiced early) for using the stevedores – then perhaps the Australian consumer who will likely bear these costs deserves an explanation.”
Road Freight New South Wales (RFNSW) has called on the ACCC to investigate the new infrastructure surcharge to be introduced on 17 April 2017 by DP World at its Sydney terminal. The surcharge will be $21.16 per container and will apply to all full containers received or delivered via road or rail at the Sydney Terminal. Simon O’Hara, General Manager, RFNSW called on the ACCC’s Rod Sims in a letter to investigate whether DPW Australia misused its substantial market power under s46 of the Competition and Consumer ACT (CCA), engaged in unconscionable conduct under ss 20 or 21 of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL), or imposed the infrastructure surcharge in an unfair and discriminatory manner, including under the new small business unfair contract terms law. “Our members are extremely concerned about DP World’s unilateral decision, which was announced without any consultation with industry,” said O’Hara. “There has been no discussion or input from carriers, just a one-page letter warning carriers that their ongoing access to the Sydney terminal is contingent on them paying up. “DPWA has failed to justify why it’s imposing the extra levy on carriers, spinning it as an ‘infrastructure surcharge’ We have no understanding as to how they reached this decision, and given they have not consulted with industry, we still do not understand their rationale,” he said. O’Hara said that the decision was anti-competitive, discriminatory and unfair. “Carriers will be charged through the One-Stop Vehicle Booking System and RFNSW is calling on DP World to outline specific billing and payment procedures for carriers and how they compare with rail operators at the port. We are concerned that carriers, yet again, will be disadvantaged,” said O’Hara. “The fact that the Infrastructure Surcharge applies only to laden containers arriving by road and rail is discriminatory and to the detriment of road and rail companies that do not have the ability to change stevedores in response to the price increases. “That is, the infrastructure surcharge will not apply to the repositioning of empty containers by shipping lines, which contributes substantially to the total container movements conducted by DPWA and the use of the various capital equipment sought to be covered by the Infrastructure Surcharge,” he said. “DP World demands payment in seven days, and ongoing access to their terminals is conditional on paying on time. Yet, transport operators will only be able to recoup the costs based on their customers’ terms [in] 30 days, or in many cases longer.” O’Hara said that RFNSW would also take up the surcharge with the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell AO.