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The release of the ACCC’s Container Stevedoring Monitoring Report 2021-22 highlights the urgency of port reform to ensure sufficient competition and protect Australia’s overall productivity and competitiveness.

GrainGrowers, said it was alarmed by the ACCC findings that the current level of regulation at Australian container ports is “not effective and the threat of further regulation in most states is not sufficiently credible to constrain container ports from exercising their market power.”

GrainGrowers General Manager, Policy and Advocacy, Zachary Whale said growers are facing escalating port costs while stevedores are making record profits.

Mr Whale said it was clear that the current system was not working in the interests of Australian export industries.

“As an industry, we have been calling for change for some time. This report has shown there is a clear need for stronger port regulation.”

“When government privatises critical infrastructure such as ports, the process must be done in a way that does not adversely impact competition and Australia’s overall productivity and competitiveness. The finding that price competition between stevedores at our largest ports has eroded over the last several years highlights that operators can exercise considerable market power to the detriment of exporters and importers.”

Mr Whale said a well-functioning maritime logistics system is critical for an export-oriented industry like grains.

“The simple fact is that we rely highly on Australia’s ports and shipping networks to transport grain to international markets. Skyrocketing terminal charges and protracted industrial action at ports across Australia harm our competitiveness and reputation. Ultimately, the Australian public wears the cost.”

“GrainGrowers believes urgent government action is long overdue. Steps must be taken before high costs, and delays at ports inflict long-term damage to our vital export industries.”

Mr Whale said the industry supported the ACCC position that a well-functioning and efficient supply chain will benefit all Australian businesses and consumers.

“Greater competition, industrial relations reform, and established benchmarks to measure productivity in our ports are critical not just for farmers but all Australians.”

“We need action now because we can’t afford Australia to become less attractive for international shipping and the destination of last resort,” he said.

Media contact:

Chris Rowley