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VICTORIANS could be forced to pay more on everyday goods from January 1 when surging new container charges at the Port of Melbourne are passed to suppliers.
Businesses across the state have lashed out at DP World Australia after the major stevedore said it would raise access fees at the port from $49.20 per container to $85.30 from January 1.
The same charge at Swanson Dock was just $3.50 per container in April 2017.
The stevedore has played down concerns about flow-on costs but industry figures have warned the costs will be passed on to customers and damage the livelihoods of struggling farmers.
A DP World Australia spokeswoman said the increase would add 15c to the delivered cost of a flat screen TV and 10c to the cost of a microwave oven.
Container charge increase could have a flow-on effect. Picture: Mark Stewart“To ensure a sustainable future in an increasingly competitive market, DP World Australia is continuing the journey to a rebalanced revenue recovery from waterside to landside,” she said. “We understand that stevedoring is a closely monitored and scrutinised industry and that, for some, this presents an easy target.
“The ACCC will be able to comment on this round of charges in its next report, if it so chooses.”
But Victorian Farmer’s Federation vice-president Brett Hosking said the change would have a major flow-on effect and came as the cost of living was increasing across the state.
“To add another cost on to the supply chain is pretty frustrating as it impacts every Victorian,” he said.
“We all know how far our disposable income doesn’t get these days. Assuming a cappuccino costs $5, it is like showing up the next day and being told the charge is now $8,” he said.
Brett Hosking fears for the flow-on effect for Victorian farmers.“It is a massive charge when you put it into perspective … Anything that impacts the supply chain until it meets a dead end (at farmers or customers).”
The Port of Melbourne is now one of the most expensive sites for DP World customers in Australia, with container charges at least $20 higher than their Brisbane and Sydney locations.
In July this year the port imported the equivalent of 115,690 full containers.
Container Transport Alliance Australia director Neil Chambers said there would be a wider impact on the state’s economy.
“You can selectively pick statistics but that doesn't ’t show the whole picture,” he said.
‘From an import point of view it certainly gets passed on … This could cause some pretty big stress.
“Transport companies have got to stump up these costs and try to recover that revenue from their customers.”
Victorian Transport Association chief executive Peter Anderson.Victorian Transport Association CEO Peter Anderson said companies were asking the government to investigate the matter.
“Everybody is horrified but they can’t do anything about it,” he said.
“It seems like DP World has taken a position to gouge while they can and at some stage somebody is going to be up in arms.
“These poor carriers … When do they come back with their own increases and how will they pass that on?”
Ports Minister Luke Donnellan said he was disappointed the surcharges had been increased.
“While these charges are a matter for the stevedores and their individual customers, it is reasonable for industry to expect an improved level of service in return,” he said.
“This is exactly why we’ve announced, as part of the Victorian Freight Plan, that the we’ll investigate options for the future role of government in regulating pricing/charges, and access to and from the port.”
This article first appeared on www.heraldsun.com.au
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