We are conducting our first inquiry into the port’s compliance with the pricing order for the review period 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2021.
Inquiry into Port of Melbourne compliance with the pricing order 2021
Inquiry starts10 June 2021
Public forum15 July 2021
Drop-in sessionsfrom 5 July to 5 August 2021
Submissions close3 September 2021
Final report provided to Assistant Treasurerby 31 December 2021
We are required by the Port Management Act 1995 to conduct an inquiry into the port’s compliance with the 2016 pricing order every five years. Our first inquiry is for the review period 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2021.
The Port of Melbourne services international and domestic shipping lines carrying containerised and general cargo to and from Melbourne through Port Phillip Bay.
The port charges users in line with the pricing order. It sets out the requirements for the port when setting prices for prescribed services, such as:
- how to calculate prices
- the extent prices can change between years
- when the port needs to apply to us for variations.
The pricing order provides the port a reasonable opportunity to recover efficient costs for providing services such as:
- channel use
- berth or area hire
- other ancillary services.
Scope of our inquiry
We are conducting an inquiry into:
- whether the Port of Melbourne has complied with the pricing order during the period 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2021
- if any non-compliance was, in our view, non-compliance in a significant and sustained manner.
We must conduct a formal inquiry every five years and complete it within six months of the end of a review period – in this case, by 31 December 2021. We will provide our final inquiry report to the Assistant Treasurer.
Further detail on our inquiry process and the legislative framework is available in our Statement of Regulatory Approach.
View the port's tariff compliance statements
We sought feedback from 10 June to 3 September 2021
Our submission period ran over 12 weeks from 10 June to 3 September 2021 via Engage Victoria.
We held a virtual public forum on 15 July 2021 to inform interested parties of our inquiry process and to also seek their feedback. The slides presented at this forum can be found in the resources tab.
We held one-on-one information sessions from 5 July to 5 August 2021. These sessions allowed interested stakeholders to outline their views on the issues they consider relevant for the five-yearly review and to ask us questions on our process and approach to the review.
Feedback provided regarding the scope of this inquiry
Several stakeholders raised issues about the extent to which the preparation of the Port’s 2021-22 Tariff Compliance Statement, and matters addressed within it, fall within the scope of our inquiry. In particular, they raised whether the forecast capital expenditure related to the Webb Dock East expansion project, which is included in the capital base of the 2021-22 statement for purposes of setting prescribed services tariffs for the 2021-22 financial year, is a matter that comes within the scope of this inquiry.
We have taken Queen's Counsel advice on this. Based on the advice, we have decided that this is not a matter relevant to this inquiry. This matter will be considered in our next inquiry. A copy of the advice is available in the resources tab of this page.
Stakeholders who wish to raise any aspect of the matter for earlier consideration by the commission will need to seek to do so in another way, for example through the complaints mechanism in section 49Q of the Port Management Act 1995 (Vic). View information and details for lodging a complaint.
What happens now?
We will use your feedback and submissions to inform our inquiry's findings.
A summary of the key themes of our engagement and public submissions can be found in the resources tab. Please note that we are not able to release confidential or commercially sensitive information.
A draft of the report will be provided to the Port of Melbourne to give them an opportunity to make a written submission on the draft report before the commission prepares its final report on the inquiry.
We will provide a confidential final report to the Assistant Treasurer by 31 December 2021 (consistent with section 45(2) of the Essential Services Commission Act).
Section 45 also provides the process for the public release of the report without the confidential information.
If you have any queries, please email email@example.com, or call (03) 9032 1300 or 1300 664 969.
Port User and other stakeholder consultation
Scope of our inquiry
Virtual public forum
Addendum: Response from Victoria International Container Terminal
During our public forum we asked representatives from Victoria International Container Terminal (VICT) if they would like to respond to comments made by other container stevedores.
Audio issues prevented all forum attendees from hearing VICT’s response. After the forum, we offered VICT the opportunity to add a statement to our website. They provided the following statement:
"Victoria International Container Terminal (VICT) purposely decided not to make a public presentation at the Port of Melbourne (PoM) inquiry relating to compliance with the pricing order as we can confirm the PoM has been compliant within the last five years. Unfortunately, our competitors hijacked the public forum to go on the offensive and divert the inquiry into their own well-orchestrated, anti-competitive attack on the Webb Dock “knuckle” project.
In response, VICT has provided the Essential Service Commission with a detailed reply regarding the Webb Dock “knuckle” project to dismiss the misleading comments that were mentioned in the public forum."
— Victoria International Container Terminal