Call to scrap freight charges at Port of Melbourne

Brumby Government told to not introduce another round of truck charges at Port of Melbourne

By Michael House | October 26, 2009

The Victorian Employers Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI) says it is seeking a meeting with Minister Roads and Ports Minister Tim Pallas to determine if freight access charges at the Port of Melbourne are necessary.

According to VECCI spokesman Chris James the fact that transport operators will have to pay freight charges on top of container charges needs to be looked into "seriously" in order to protect the competiveness of the transport sector.

"We’ve been conveying our concerns to government about this and to their credit they are showing signs of wanting to be flexible in terms of implementation," James says.

"Other groups have already spoken out publicly about it, as we are doing now. Hopefully this has some influence of government deliberations."

James says while VECCI wants freight access charges to be scrapped completely, there are other things that could also be looked at.

"Our preferred outcome would be to not to have the charge at all, but we note [Treasury Secretary] Ken Henry has spoken about congestion charges," he says.

"Generally, if we are looking at congestion charges as an option for taxation and general amelioration of traffic, measures such as these should be considered in that broader concept.

"The impact on smaller transport operators needs to be examined more closely."

James says VECCI will bring up the issue with Pallas the next time the two parties meet which is fairly regularly.

A spokesman for Pallas says the government is intent on bringing to charge into effect, but will listen to what industry groups have to say.

"We are committed to implementing the charge and continue to consult with industry stakeholders to deliver the best possible system," the spokesman says.

The road freight industry will be a significant beneficiary of the Government's $38 billion Victorian Transport Plan, with $18 billion worth of projects that will directly improve the efficiency of the freight movement, including the Truck Action Plan and WestLink."

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