Wednesday, December 1, 2021


In a presentation yesterday (30 November 2021) to the Australian Industry Group (AIG), the Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated the Treasurer will soon announce the full details of a Productivity Commission (PC) review to examine challenges in Australia's maritime logistics system, noting these relate to 'competition, industrial relations, infrastructure constraints and technology uptake'.  
Freight & Trade Alliance (FTA) and the Australian Peak Shippers Association (APSA) welcome this development, being the culmination of a six months focussed advocacy and mainstream media campaign following an initial meeting with the Hon Dan Tehan (Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment)  in Canberra on 2 June 2021.
Importantly, in a show of strength across Australian commerce, FTA/APSA have actively contributed to a broad coalition of peak industry bodies including the AIG, National Farmers Federation and APSA/ FTA member associations including the Australian Steel Association, the Australian Council of Wool Exporters & Processors, the Australian Meat Industry Council and the Australian Cotton Shippers Association. Collectively, the coalition has compiled a detailed terms of reference for consideration by the Federal Government.  
In parallel, FTA/APSA has maintained subsequent contact with the Trade Minister and advisors, Treasury and more recently, regular (commonly daily) contact with the office of the Deputy Prime Minister and representatives from Prime Minister & Cabinet.

FTA/APSA has also had direct bi-lateral engagement and participated in broader data collection exercises led by the National Coordination Mechanism under the leadership of the Department of Home Affairs – a follow up meeting is scheduled again today, 1 December 2021.
FTA/APSA will continue its campaign for reform in matters that can be directly influenced by the Federal Government, including:  

  • a formal waterfront industrial relations review to provide immediate and continued business continuity for what is an 'essential service' and our international gateway for major supply chains;
  • the scope of the National Transport Commission (NTC) to be expanded to examine regulation of Terminal Access Charges to force stevedores and empty container parks (and LCL depots) to cost recover directly against their commercial client (shipping line) rather than via third party transport operators;
  • implement measures similar to the current US FMC review to ensure fair and reasonable container detention practices are administered by shipping lines for the dehire of empty containers – this will include a focussed campaign in partnership with the Container Transport Alliance Australia (CTAA);
  • a focus on exclusive dealings to ensure that shipping line end-to-end logistics services do not lessen competition;
  • international shipping line adherence to acceptable notification periods on service and cost variations – potential to follow the US regulation requiring a 30 day notice period;
  • repeal of Part X of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010, forcing international shipping lines to operate more closely to those competition laws faced by other businesses involved in Australian commerce – if deemed necessary for international shipping lines to have ongoing protections, introduce a federal maritime regulator to administer processes to safeguard exporter and importer's interests; and
  • investment in infrastructure to address inefficiencies in the supply chain caused by larger ships, lack of rail access to Australian container ports and shortage of space in empty container parks. 

The Prime Minister indicated that we will know the review's findings by the mid-2022, (notably, likely post the next Federal election) – a full transcript of the Prime Minister's statement is available HERE.
Once the terms of reference are released, FTA/APSA will provide a further member briefing and detail on how to contribute to formal submission(s).

Paul Zalai - Director FTA | Secretariat APSA | Director GSF