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DP World postpones port surcharge amid heavy criticism

Ports operator, DP World Australia (DPWA), has postponed the introduction of its new fee for containers at its Sydney and Melbourne terminals.

The Dubai-owned company Infrastructure Surcharge of $21.16 per container was to take effect from Monday, 3 April, but has now been pushed back to Monday, 17 April. The surcharge will apply to all full containers received or delivered via road or rail at the Sydney Terminal.

The latest announcement comes after DPWA consulted with the Victorian Transport Association (VTA). “There is no doubt that the new Infrastructure Surcharge rates to be applied to full containers delivered via road or rail at DP World Australia’s Melbourne and Sydney terminals will impact significantly on the transport industry in terms of cost, profit margin and other economic variables,” VTA CEO, Peter Anderson, told CRTNews.

“The VTA has been in close consultation with many operators that have expressed concern about the increases to the surcharge, and our advice is to quickly enter into discussions with customers to negotiate passing on the full financial impact of the increase as soon practicable.”

DPWA agreed to postpone the commencement date of the new surcharge to give operators and industry additional time to negotiate with their customers, and to alleviate short-term cash flow issues that could be experienced from the fee taking effect. “The increase is indeed dramatic, and must be passed on by operators directly to their customers in order to mitigate its impact,” Anderson said. “It is important that customers understand that the costs of doing business for transport operators are increasing rapidly, and that transactional costs such as this surcharge, and similar increases to tolls and levies, ultimately must be worn by customers and the end user.

Road Freight New South Wales (RFNSW) was critical of the surcharge, with General Manager, Simon O’Hara, labelling the surcharge “anti-competitive, discriminatory and unfair” to local operators. RFNSW has since called on the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to investigate the new infrastructure pricing scheme.

“Our members are extremely concerned about DP World’s unilateral decision, which was announced without any consultation with industry,” O’Hara said. “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.”

O’Hara said that RFNSW would also take up the surcharge with the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell AO.

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