DP World fee surge “unfair and discriminatory” say NSW trucking operators

Road Freight New South Wales (RFNSW) has called on the ACCC to investigate the new infrastructure surcharge to be introduced on 17 April 2017 by DP World at its Sydney terminal.

The surcharge will be $21.16 per container and will apply to all full containers received or delivered via road or rail at the Sydney Terminal.

Simon O’Hara, General Manager, RFNSW called on the ACCC’s Rod Sims in a letter to investigate whether DPW Australia misused its substantial market power under s46 of the Competition and Consumer ACT (CCA), engaged in unconscionable conduct under ss 20 or 21 of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL), or imposed the infrastructure surcharge in an unfair and discriminatory manner, including under the new small business unfair contract terms law.

“Our members are extremely concerned about DP World’s unilateral decision, which was announced without any consultation with industry,” said O’Hara. “There has been no discussion or input from carriers, just a one-page letter warning carriers that their ongoing access to the Sydney terminal is contingent on them paying up.

“DPWA has failed to justify why it’s imposing the extra levy on carriers, spinning it as an ‘infrastructure surcharge’ We have no understanding as to how they reached this decision, and given they have not consulted with industry, we still do not understand their rationale,” he said.

O’Hara said that the decision was anti-competitive, discriminatory and unfair.

“Carriers will be charged through the One-Stop Vehicle Booking System and RFNSW is calling on DP World to outline specific billing and payment procedures for carriers and how they compare with rail operators at the port. We are concerned that carriers, yet again, will be disadvantaged,” said O’Hara.

“The fact that the Infrastructure Surcharge applies only to laden containers arriving by road and rail is discriminatory and to the detriment of road and rail companies that do not have the ability to change stevedores in response to the price increases.

“That is, the infrastructure surcharge will not apply to the repositioning of empty containers by shipping lines, which contributes substantially to the total container movements conducted by DPWA and the use of the various capital equipment sought to be covered by the Infrastructure Surcharge,” he said.

“DP World demands payment in seven days, and ongoing access to their terminals is conditional on paying on time. Yet, transport operators will only be able to recoup the costs based on their customers’ terms [in] 30 days, or in many cases longer.”

O’Hara said that RFNSW would also take up the surcharge with the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell AO.