Monday, July 12, 2010

Shipping Container Collection Tax Brings Criticism

Bidders Sign Up to Collect Victorian Port Tolls
Shipping News Feature

AUSTRALIA – It seems the poor old Aussie trucker is set to be hit again as the Victorian Government announce the names of companies they are short listing to manage what was described in May by Philip Lovel, CEO of the Victorian Transport Association (VTA) as, ‘Nothing but a big new tax on transport and international trade’. The Freight Infrastructure Charge collection service at the Port of Melbourne will apply to trucks accessing the East and West Swanson dock container terminals to pick up and deliver freight containers and the monies raised will supposedly help finance improvements to infrastructure announced in the Victorian Transport Plan.

It seems the authorities will confer with stakeholders to use the charge in such a way that heavier rates at busy periods will encourage a smoother flow of container traffic through the port. The VTA argument is simply that the A$1 billion which the government has budgeted to earn from the charge in the next ten years should be levied on the containers, not the hauliers and that they time collections to comply with customer delivery demands and drivers hours of service.

Critics also wonder what the IT company who win the contract will receive as years pass but the five companies, Tenix Solutions, Transurban, VESystems, ConnectEast and a ConnectEast/1-Stop Connections consortium, will have to tender and Acting Roads and Ports Minister Peter Batchelor believes such concerns are misplaced saying that the inception of a Stakeholder Advisory Group in the near future to monitor the entire implementation and operational parameters of the charge will provide good management.

The introduction of the charge is also intended to encourage more customers to use the rail freight facilities whenever possible in a scheme designed by the previous Labor administration but seemingly generally accepted by politicians of various political hues as an essential component in streamlining Victoria’s transport requirements for the future.