Users of the Port of Melbourne are alarmed that the Ports Minister, Melissa Horne, failed to explain in Question Time yesterday why access fees charged by the major stevedoring companies have increased from $3.60 to $80.00 per container over the past 2 years.
Following the lease of the Port of Melbourne in March 2016, the Andrews Labor Government promised that “the scope of regulated charges will be expanded to cover all trade charges for cargo and shipping movements.”
However, major stevedoring companies that operate at the Port of Melbourne have since increased their infrastructure access fee by over 2000 per cent in just two years.
These massive cost increases will be passed onto local producers, exporters, retailers and consumers in Ripon.
Communities like Ripon are built around the agricultural sector and support thousands of jobs directly and indirectly across Victoria.
Local farmers are already under pressure from drought, rising energy and water prices, and a swag of taxes from the Andrews Labor Government. The government should stay true to its word and keep these skyrocketing port costs in check.
Despite the Andrews Labor Government promising an “expedited enquiry” into these exorbitant fee increases in October 2018, the Ports Minister still has no answers for producers suffering under these soaring costs about who will conduct this enquiry, or when it will begin.
The Port of Melbourne is currently Australia’s largest container port, however these massive cost increases risk container business, and as a result could cost local jobs, being lost to ports in Sydney and Brisbane.