The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission today issued its ninth annual monitoring report covering revenues, costs and profits of container terminal operations in Australia’s major ports for 2006-07.
"In general, the results of the report show an industry that has expanded capacity, become more efficient and productive", ACCC Chairman, Mr Graeme Samuel, said. "However, these results also show that Australian stevedoring continues to report returns on assets which can only persist where price competition can be largely avoided. This underlines the ongoing importance of competition as a factor for port managers and State governments to consider as they plan for the expected increase in container volumes over the next decade."
The report also notes some progress in improving the efficiency with which containers are moved between the terminals and trucks and trains.
"[Recently] in New South Wales, the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal issued its draft report into the review of the interface between land transport industries and the stevedores at Port Botany. Several of the draft recommendations – in particular, those relating to changes in arrangements for vehicle booking systems – potentially involve cooperation and coordination among industry players and, in some cases, may raise trade practices issues. Where such schemes provide an overall public benefit, they can, in certain circumstances, be authorised under the Trade Practices Act.
"I encourage parties to consult with the ACCC early and prior to implementation to address any potential trade practices concerns that may arise."
The ACCC’s monitoring report shows that at Australia’s largest container terminals, average revenues and costs for stevedoring activities fell, while productivity levels improved. This contrasts with a trend over recent years of rising unit revenues and costs and falling productivity. Stevedoring margins continued to increase in 2006-07 to record high levels as the fall in unit costs was proportionately greater than the fall in unit revenues.
The report is available on the ACCC’s website under ‘Publications’ at www.accc.gov.au.