Call to reign in port infrastructure charges

Call to reign in port infrastructure charges

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FEE HIKE: Agricultural goods make up about 43 per cent of all containerised exports from the Port of Melbourne, with farmers bearing the brunt of increased charges.

FEE HIKE: Agricultural goods make up about 43 per cent of all containerised exports from the Port of Melbourne, with farmers bearing the brunt of increased charges.

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The Victorian Farmers Federation has called for the state government to address skyrocketing port infrastructure charges.

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The Victorian Farmers Federation has called for the state government to address skyrocketing port infrastructure charges, estimating they cost the average hay producer about $8000 in lost revenue.

Grains Group president Ashley Fraser said the government needed to extend the Essential Services Commission's current oversight of port rents, to include access and pricing.

In the last two years, port infrastructure charges at the Port of Melbourne had increased over 2000 per cent, with stevedore DP World recently announcing it would further hike fees next year.

"Agricultural goods make up approximately 43pc of all containerised exports from the Port of Melbourne," Mr Fraser said.

"When stevedores hike up prices, the burden is passed up the supply chain, and it is ultimately farmers who bear the brunt of it.

"Unlike other industries, we can't just pass these costs onto consumers."

Victorian farmers were already battling to maintain access to valuable export markets in the face of the high production costs and competition from cheaper supply chains in other exporting countries.

"In the case of hay and grain producers, the increases are typically borne by individual farmers who will deliver the entire 25Mt to fill the container," Mr Fraser said.

The VFF estimated that the port infrastructure charges were already costing the average farmer, producing export hay, about $8000 a year in lost revenue.

"Especially in current drought conditions, this is taking vital income away from rural communities," he said.

"The Victorian government promised, during the sale of the lease of the Port of Melbourne in 2016, to implement adequate protections for all port users, yet these protections were not extended to port infrastructure charges, and so we continue to see farmers being price gouged by stevedores.

"We are calling on the Victorian government to ensure adequate measures are in place to protect the Victorian agriculture industry."

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