By Brett Charlton – Agility Logistics General Manager Tasmania

Infrastructure surcharges got the attention of everyone in Tasmania recently with the announcement of DP World pretty much doubling their fees at West Swanson terminal from January 2019.

There is a lot of angst about this charge as there is no control or regulation as to what can be charged – it is set and issued and the fear is that once one charges it (or even increases it) they all will.

It is a reasonable fear as this is has increased a number of times over the year and on the back of the Melbourne port levy, peak season charges for inward freight, toll charges, bio security surcharge additions and booking slot increases you could be forgiven for thinking that there is a lot of clipping of the ticket going on.

Bringing it back to Tasmania however in relation to the infrastructure surcharges, it is important to understand how our freight is currently moving.

Presently the majority of our exported and imported cargo (international – this is what we are talking about here) goes one of two ways – direct ex Bell Bay on the MSC vessel or via Melbourne with the trans bass carriers (Tolls or Searoad). In relation to MSC, the cargoes either do not touch Melbourne port or if they do, they are done within the port infrastructure – therefore there is no port infrastructure surcharge applied.

In regards to the via Bass Strait cargoes, the infrastructure surcharge is billed to the line by their nominated cartage company and I am advised that presently this is being absorbed into the terrific revenue that the lines are making on the terminal handling charges (a story for another day).

I will be keeping a close eye on this as it evolves, but Tasmanian exporters and importers need to review all options in their considerations – including where the cargo is received in Australian ports and the costs associated.

The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) risk season is something that importers would have heard of if they are importing from those countries at risk.

Importers are bearing costs for fumigation or heat treatment as well as facing delays in inspections, cost burdens of demurrage and detention and other costs as a result of the strict enforcement of the protocols for importation from countries affected by this creature.

The issue is difficult because of our lacking infrastructure and the costs involved for treatment and the volume of cargo relevant to the BMSB risk – but please take some time to look up what is happening in Europe and America with this bug – it is an infestation of mammoth proportions and something we need to avoid coming to Australia at all costs.