National Farmers' Federation

Farmers call for action on ports in the wake of Productivity Commission inquiry

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has called on the Government to act urgently, following a Productivity Commission report which has found serious deficiencies in Australia’s port system—costing businesses and consumers $600 million each year.

NFF President Fiona Simson said the Government now needed to adopt the Productivity Commission’s recommendations to improve Australia’s maritime logistics system as a matter of urgency.

Ms Simson said households and exporters, including farmers, were ultimately footing the bill for this inefficiency.

“The ludicrous cost of freight and logistics is a serious factor driving up the cost-of-living for Australian households.

“Acting urgently on these recommendations is a practical step the Government can take to ease the pressure on household budgets without fuelling inflation.

“Inefficient ports are also hurting farmers’ ability to access export markets. If we can’t move our product at a competitive rate, we can’t compete globally.

“More than half of the final price of some commodities is going to freight and logistics. That makes our farms less viable in the long run, and pushes up food prices,” Ms Simson said.

The Productivity Commission has backed longstanding calls by the NFF, including:

  • Repeal of Part X of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth), to better mitigate the excessive bargaining power of shipping line operators.
  • Restricting terminal access charges to shipping lines, rather than deferring them down the supply chain.
  • Addressing the impact of sustained industrial action which has led to significant disruptions and millions of dollars of additional costs for freight users at ports.

Like many small businesses, farmers have seen their costs spiral in recent years, with the price of inputs such as fuel, fertilisers, chemicals and electricity surge anywhere from 100 – 500%.

“Australia has an important role to play in contributing to global food security challenges, but to do this, we need to remain globally competitive. “Efficient, globally competitive supply chains are critical if we’re to reach our Government-backed target of becoming Australia’s next $100 billion industry by 2030,” Ms Simson concluded.