Australians can expect to pay more for imported goods this Christmas as shipping container backlogs cause delays at major ports, resulting in many empty shipping containers not being returned to Asia.
Melissa Horne, Minister for Ports and Freight has written to the Freight and Trade Alliance (FTA) following its advocacy against DP World increasing access charges scheduled for Melbourne and Brisbane. Read more
The Spirit of Tasmania’s operator, TT-Line, has announced it will relocate Victorian operations from Port Melbourne to Corio Quay, north of Geelong. Read more
The Andrews Labor Government announced they’re investing in a new proposal to reduce truck congestion at the Port of Melbourne.
LINX Cargo Care Group (LINX CCG) has created a Virtual Reality (VR) safety training platform in collaboration with Curiious and Samsung Electronics Australia which is the first of its kind in Australia’s supply chain and logistics industry.
The Gear VR training platform was designed to create an immersive VR experience to enhance LINX CCG’s safety training delivery and assessment. LINX CCG partnered with communication and technology company Curiious to conceptualise and build the immersive VR experience.
LINX CCG is committed to sending its 4,000 people home safely every day, across more than 70 sites in Australia and New Zealand.
Anthony Jones, LINX Cargo Care Group CEO, is passionate about safety. His dispersed and diverse workforce operate 24/7 in hazardous environments with large machinery. The key to improving safety is to create a compelling, simulated experience that cuts through and has an impact.
“Virtual reality training will enable us to immerse all our people in diverse situations and expose them to critical risks in our hazardous work environment,” he said.
This commitment to standardise is echoed by Peter Seaman, LINX CCG Executive General Manager Health, Safety and Environment.
“The Gear VR platform enables us to deliver consistent safety training across all levels of the organisation. Often some of the messages are lost in translation in safety training and delivered in different ways, whereas this Gear VR platform minimises room for miscommunication,” Peter said.
Anthony believes VR immersion is really powerful.
“To put people into different situations where they have the chance to see how it would play out and to immerse them in a scenario, showing them real dangers and consequences, is invaluable,” he said.
Michelle Schuberg, Curiious General Manager, also believes in the benefits the immersive Gear VR technology will bring to enhancing LINX CCG’s approach to safety.
“For LINX CCG, the platform’s end goal is to help deliver their ‘home safely every day’ promise,” said Michelle.
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.
There could be 2 million containers passing through the port of Newcastle each year.
Following years of sitting in the ACCC’s too-hard basket, industry sources say there has now been enough confirmation of wrong-doing by successive NSW Governments for the ACCC to take action.
The Newcastle Herald quotes an ACCC spokesperson saying: “We have considered these issues over time, however, there are some recent developments that have renewed our interest.”
The news of course comes as great relief and justification for their decades of perseverance for the small group of battle-weary former BHP Steelworks executives and the current management of the Port of Newcastle, who have been told many times to give up any hope of ever seeing the port as anything more than a coaldust gatherer.
Former BHP executive and the driving force behind the container port movement Greg Cameron explains the details:
There is movement on Newcastle at last
The ACCC’s decision to at last investigate arrangements that “may limit or prevent the development of a container terminal at the Port of Newcastle”, is welcome news.
The ACCC chooses its words carefully. It says of “relevance” to its concerns is section 45 of the “Commonwealth Competition and Consumer Act 2010” (Competition Act), that “prohibits contracts, arrangements or understandings which have the purpose or effect of substantially lessening competition”.
A container terminal is a near certainty, if the NSW government removes the fee it charges. This fee is paid to the lessee of Port Botany and Port Kembla (NSW Ports) as compensation for loss of container shipping business to Newcastle.
A world-class container terminal built on the former Newcastle steelworks site would be able to move two million TEU containers a year. At this volume, the NSW government will be required to pay NSW Ports $8 billion between 2023 and 2063. NSW Ports paid $5.1 billion for a 99-year lease in 2013.
The government was authorised by the “Ports Assets (Authorised Transactions) Act 2012” to lease Port Botany, Port Kembla and Port of Newcastle. But this Act did not authorise the government to pay the lessee of Botany/Kembla for containers shipped through Newcastle.
Paying NSW Ports anything defeats the purpose of leasing Botany/Kembla, which was to release capital value. However, by artificially inflating the lease value of Botany/Kembla – by promising payment of compensation – the government got a false valuation.
Competition from Newcastle would have made the lease value of Botany/Kembla less than the retention value, whereby these ports would not have been leased in the first place.
The government concealed its decision to pay the lessee when the “Ports Assets (Authorised Transactions) Bill 2012” was being considered by Parliament. The government also concealed its source of funds to pay the lessee. The government decided in 2012 that a private company, Newcastle Stevedores Consortium (Consortium), would be the source of those funds.
A negotiation by the government to lease Newcastle’s container terminal site to the Consortium, for development of a container terminal, commenced in 2010. A key lease condition was that the Consortium should build and operate a container terminal with minimum capacity for one million TEU containers a year.
Since a lease contract with a condition requiring the Consortium to pay a fee for containers was likely to breach the Competition Act, the government terminated the negotiation, in November 2013.
In November 2013, the government decided to lease the Port of Newcastle to give it a source of funds to pay NSW Ports outside the operation of the Competition Act. Government policy, as confirmed by the Hon Gladys Berejiklian MP on 29 September 2015, is that the port lessee (Port of Newcastle Investments) “could develop a container terminal if it wished to do so”.
A Newcastle container terminal will generate base load cargo to pay for a rail freight bypass of Sydney – from Newcastle to Port Kembla via outer western Sydney.
A sensible solution is for an orderly transfer of container terminal operations from Port Botany to Newcastle and Port Kembla. NSW Ports, which is 80 per cent owned by industry super funds, can have its investment protected if it participates in the rail freight bypass.
There is enough money to be made in railing containers from Newcastle, rather than trucking containers from Port Botany, to protect the interests of all investors, by taking a common-sense approach in the interests of fund members and the NSW community.
Why stop there?
If of course container movement was discontinued at Port Botany, to the great relief of local residents and road users, the land and airspace at Port Botany could be used for an additional runway at Sydney Airport. This would negate the need for a new airport at Badgery’s Creek – especially if a fast train were to commence operations between Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, which routes account for over 30% of Sydney Airport’s traffic.
The freight rail line duplication could also be avoided, saving several more billions. There would be an immediate ease of the traffic chaos along the M5 and M7, which currently see trucks carrying the hundreds of thousands of containers between Port Botany and the new industrial mega-developments around Eastern Creek each year. It could actually be faster to rail a container from Newcastle to Eastern Creek and surrounds than to move it from Port Botany.
Mr Cameron said Port Botany container truck movements are currently more than 1 million a year. “Deloitte Access Economics estimates they will increase to 4.9 million a year by 2040. However, if the Moorebank Intermodal Terminal does not proceed, Port Botany container truck movements will be 6 million a year.
“WestConnex is essential if container truck movements are to increase five fold because the current capacity of the M5 East is exceeded, even without container trucks. A rail freight bypass would make the Moorebank intermodal redundant because all containers would be railed using the bypass line. Sydney’s existing rail freight capacity is more profitably used for more passenger services.”
Let’s see what happens with the Port of Newcastle first.
Charles Pauka – Editor
The Port of Townsville’s Berth 4 container and general cargo facility has officially opened upon completion of a $40.7 million upgrade.
The two-year project has resulted in a full upgrade of the inner harbour berth so larger vessels can be accommodated and efficiency improved.
The project has doubled the capacity of Berth 4, allowing an additional 2 million tonnes of product per annum, delivering a 20% increase on current total port tonnage throughput capacity.
The upgrade will lead to more jobs in North Queensland due to the economic boost it would provide the region. Member for Townsville Scott Steware said: “The upgrade itself generated 100 local jobs, and the next phase, which involces crane investment and cargo infrastructure, will generate 35 direct jobs during construction. Berth 4 operations will also support ongoing jobs once the project is complete.”
Port of Townsville CEO Ranee Crosby said that the successful completion of the project by local company CivilPlus Constructions demonstrated the capacity for large projects to be carried out by local companies.
Mike Gallacher, CEO of Ports Australia, has told the Australian Parliamentary Standing Committee on Infrastructure, Transport and Cities that government must show leadership in addressing the freight imbalance to deal with the future freight task.
“Figures show that the country’s freight task is set to double and that our current and future spend on roads and rail will not be adequate to meet the requirement of the incoming freight tsunami,” said Gallacher.
“Over the last 25 years domestic sea freight has grown by one per cent, where rail has grown by 210 per cent and road, 61 per cent.
“For a maritime nation with over 70 ports strategically located right around our country, each with road and rail access, each with maritime related industry nearby, in either a capital city or regional town, a continuation of this imbalance surely is not in our national interest.
“Ports are intrinsically linked to our prosperity, ensuring that the gateways to Australia’s economy are healthy and vibrant is only a good thing for all Australia.”
Flinders Adelaide Container Terminal (FACT) has appointed David Sleath, the Terminal’s former Operations Manager, to the role of General Manager.
Sleath officially took the position in February 2018, replacing Steve Cox, who departed the role in late 2017.
According to FACT, Sleath has a vast knowledge of the operational requirements of the container terminal, acquired over seven years as the Terminal’s Operations Manager. He has extensive experience in the daily workings of the terminal and working with FACT’s clients and stakeholders.
He is also a ‘Master Mariner’ and holds science, maritime supply chain, leadership and business management qualifications.
“We are pleased to have appointed David into the General Manager’s role,” said Stewart Lammin, CEO, Flinders Port Holdings. “David is highly experienced and knowledgeable professional who is well known and respected in the industry. During his time at FACT, he has constantly demonstrated his commitment to industry best practice with respect to workplace safety, efficiency and customer service.”
FACT has operated since July 2012, when Flinders Port Holdings gained 100 per cent ownership of the Adelaide Container Terminal from DP World South Australia In 2017, the Terminal handled approximately 320,000 containers, and stevedored 429 container ships.