Voluntary Performance Monitoring Framework - Quarterly Report

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Freight & Trade Alliance (FTA) and the Australian Peak Shippers Association (APSA) have received from Freight Victoria (the Department of Transport, Victoria) a copy of the Voluntary Performance Monitoring Framework (VPMF) (Quarterly Report) that monitors the performance of the 3 stevedores currently holding leases in the Port of Melbourne [DP World Australia West Swanson Terminal, Patrick East Swanson Terminal, and Victoria International Container Terminal (VICT) at Webb Dock] – report available HERE

The report aligns to that published in the annual Container Stevedoring Monitoring Report by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) as well as other publications and does little to justify the ongoing increases in highly inflated landside "Terminal Access Charges" imposed by the stevedores on transport operators. 

Whilst we acknowledge that Freight Victoria has taken steps via the Voluntary Pricing Protocol Model (VPPM) to address these activities, 2 stevedores have since significantly increased Terminal Access Charges. In both instances FTA / APSA sought data to validate these increases however the requested data was not provided. This outcome was reported to Freight Victoria with no apparent further action taken.

In summary, the VPPM appears to simply "rubber stamp" what the stevedores submit without taking into account any industry feedback .

To be clear, FTA / APSA are not arguing about the quantum of the Terminal Access Charge. This is something only the shipping lines can negotiate with the stevedore.
FTA / APSA are continuing to advocate for government intervention to prevent stevedores from charging transport companies. It is an abuse of market power and unreasonable to impose a charge on a party that has no say; cannot negotiate the charge and cannot go elsewhere to receive and deliver containers. FTA / APSA recommend that the scope of the National Transport Commission (NTC) review be expanded to examine the potential of regulation to force stevedores to cost recover directly against their commercial client (shipping line) rather than via third party transport operators.

FTA / APSA also notes that neither the VPMF nor the VPPM address the operations / charging at empty container parks.

As has been seen over the last 12 - 18 months at Port Botany, the efficiency of empty container parks, and for that matter the shipping lines who contract them, has been less than ideal and it took steps by Transport for NSW to initiate an Empty Container Working Group (ECWG) to address operational issues in this area.

FTA / APSA will continue to advocate via the Productivity Commission and the National Transport Commission (NTC) on these matters and work towards the establishment of a national oversight body to review the operations / charging mechanisms by shipping lines, stevedores and empty container parks

Submissions by FTA and APSA to the NTC and Productivity Commission can be read on the below links

National Transport Commission
Productivity Commission