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Can a Voluntary arrangement really protect the interest of the international trade sector?

Since 20 November 2020, NTC was tasked to lead the Voluntary national guidelines, a reform that is applicable to stevedore infrastructure and Terminal Access Charges (both their introduction and increase) at Australia's container ports. Up to now we are still waiting for the outcome of the said reform adding resolve to our advocacy that regulation is required to wind back and eradicate TACs, leaving market forces to determine price and service between commercially contracted entities.


We have written to each container stevedore operating at the Port of Melbourne in line with the Voluntary Port Performance Model (VPPM) in the last twelve (12) months. On each occasion when DP World, Victorian International Container Terminal (VICT) and Patrick have announced TAC increases we have express our desires to know as to whether increases are a measure to offset or further a reduction in quayside rates to the stevedore's commercial client shipping lines and / or necessitated by other specific operational factors. Along with it was a request for a further detailed explanation for the increases including disclosure, supporting information and data justifying the full cost structure of the total fees but instead provided a general commentary with a broad reference to activities and capital expenses.


We are now reaching out to The Hon. Melissa Horne (Victorian Minister for Ports and Freight) expressing serious concerns that the VPPM or any similar voluntary monitoring process will mean that stevedores will continue to receive revenue from the transport sector with the minor inconvenience in the form of another level of bureaucracy before implementing each increase. Continuation of such voluntary performance arrangements poses the significant risk of giving tacit approval to this unwarranted cost recovery method on third parties.

We are again encouraging the minister, ideally in partnership with other state ministers, to move towards regulation to force stevedores to cost recover directly against their commercial client (shipping line). Reinforcing now more than ever, it is time for those in government to act and protect our vulnerable supply chains.


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