Productivity Commission to examine maritime logistics efficiency

Productivity Commission

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a Productivity Commission (PC) enquiry into the Australian maritime logistics system’s efficiency.

Speaking in a virtual address to the Australian Industry Group (AGI) on 30 November, the PM told the audience that the Treasurer will soon be releasing the terms of reference for the enquiry.

“This is not an enquiry that I see going on for a long time,” the PM said. “I want to see this back here by the middle of the year.”

The PM stated that the expected enquiry forms part of a broader push to address supply side issues to help the economy recover.

“[Having] supported our economy strongly on the demand side through the pandemic, our focus inevitably turns to the supply side levers as the economy recovers, because it’s those supply side levers that can have such a big impact on inflationary pressures on all Australians, whether mortgage holders or small business, as they try to make their payments and ensure their businesses can proceed forward in getting access to the capital they can to take advantage of the recovery.”

The Freight & Trade Alliance (FTA) and the Australian Peak Shippers Association (APSA) say in a joint statement that they “welcome this development” as the “culmination of six months focussed advocacy”.

“FTA/APSA have actively contributed to a broad coalition of peak industry bodies including the AIG, National Farmers Federation and APSA/ FTA member associations including the Australian Steel Association, the Australian Council of Wool Exporters & Processors, the Australian Meat Industry Council and the Australian Cotton Shippers Association. Collectively, the coalition has compiled a detailed terms of reference for consideration by the Federal Government.”

The statement also says that FTA and APSA will continue campaigning for a broader reform agenda by the Federal Government, including:

  • a formal waterfront industrial relations review
  • expanding the scope of the National Transport Commission to examine regulation of Terminal Access Charges
  • implementing measures modelled on the US Federal Maritime Commission’s review to ensure “fair and reasonable container detention practices are administered by shipping lines for the dehire of empty containers”
  • addressing issues around exclusive dealings “to ensure that shipping line end-to-end logistics services do not lessen competition”
  • potential implementation of 30-day notice period (following US model) to encourage “international shipping line adherence to acceptable notification periods on service and cost variations”
  • amending the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 to force “international shipping lines to operate more closely to those competition laws faced by other businesses involved in Australian commerce”, or in the alternative introducing a federal maritime regulator to oversee exporter and importer interests; and
  • investment in supply chain infrastructure to address inefficiencies “caused by larger ships, lack of rail access to Australian container ports and shortage of space in empty container parks.”

To read the full statement from FTA/APSA, click here

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