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Prime Mover Magazine

ATA call for ACCC to regulate road tolls, port charges

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) should take over regulating toll road and landside port charges, says Chief Executive of the Australian Trucking Association (ATA), Ben Maguire.

According to the ATA, the Australian Government is considering setting up an independent regulator to control truck and bus registration charges and the road user charge that truck and bus operators pay on fuel.

Maguire said the independent regulator – likely the ACCC – should be responsible for toll road and landside port changes as well.

“Toll road charges for trucks are growing rapidly. Small trucking businesses simply cannot afford them. Although these charge are set by state governments, the arrangements for setting them are not transparent and do not take into account costs across the supply chain,” said Maguire.

Maguire explained that the ATA and its members have similar concerns about landside port charges.

“Earlier in 2017, DP World unilaterally increased the infrastructure surcharge at is 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,” said Maguire.

Container terminal operator, Patrick Terminals, also increased its existing surcharges this month, and introduced a $4.76 surcharge per container at 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,” said Maguire.

“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."

Governments must start the reform process by fixing the overcharging of truck and bus operators, according to Maguire.

“Truck and bus operators will be overcharged by $264.8 million in 2017-2018,” Maguire said. “The meter is ticking up by more than $725,000 per day.”

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