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IPART hears push for better Botany communication

<p>The level of cooperation that improved efficiency along the Hunter Valley coal chain could be used as a suitable model for a similar working group at Port Botany, the New South Wales Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) heard yesterday (Wednesday, July 18).</p> <p>IPART called the major Port Botany players together for roundtable discussions in Sydney yesterday as the tribunal prepared to make recommendations on pricing at the port.</p> <p>The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC), a member of the Hunter Valley Coal Chain Logistics Team, said that while the same model would not work for a container supply chain, the same principles could help improve efficiency in Sydney.</p> <p>ARTC project manager Terry Bones said that many of the landside concerns at the port could be addressed if there was better communication about coordinating the day-to-day operations, while also working together on long-term decisions.</p> <p>&#8220They key reason it works is that there’s a close alignment of commercial aims,&#8221 Mr Bones said.</p> <p>&#8220The long-term decision making is still ultimately the responsibility of the individual members, [but&#93 it is imperative that there is a commonality in commercial interests.&#8221</p> <p>It was a thought well-supported in written IPART submissions made before the June deadline, but one not on display at the hearing yesterday.</p> <p>While many of the groups represented agreed that better communication was needed, road transporters still maintained that the transparency of access to both terminals was a significant concern.</p> <p>Few of the groups represented were prepared to offer any major concessions to find solutions for the port’s congestion woes, choosing instead to blame other parties for complicating the system.</p> <p>IPART chairman Michael Keating prefaced the hearing with a reminder that the tribunal had held the meeting only to gather more information in the lead up to the release of a draft report, making recommendations on pricing at the port, due in December.</p> <p>The meeting was not designed to solve the issues, Mr Keating said.</p> <p>But it did not stop both the stevedores from presenting detailed arguments against ongoing complaints from truck groups about their processes.</p> <p>The two stevedores &#8211 Toll’s Patrick Stevedores and DP World &#8211 gave lengthy responses to questions relating to the port’s vehicle booking system (VBS) and the push for a 24&#477 operation. </p> <p>DP World operations director Andrew Adams said the complaints about the VBS were unfounded, adding that the stevedore’s statistics did not support the complaints that road transporters were making.</p> <p>Mr Adams said the efficiency at the terminal would improve if DP World did not have to deal with more than 250 carriers, which only complicated the VBS.</p> <p>The stevedores claim that as little as half of the slots allocated are being used, a suggestion that the truck industry refuted. </p> <p>DP World wants to change the VBS to be able to dictate when specific containers are picked up, which it said would allow it to work its way down the container stacks, rather than picking individual boxes out in time for specific truck arrivals.</p> <p>&#8220If the terminal had more control over truck arrivals, it would be faster,&#8221 Mr Adams said.</p> <p>Patrick general manager Doug Schultz said the suggestion from the road transporters that there should be more daytime slots available was &#8220simplistic&#8221 and would only add to Sydney’s already congested road network.</p> <p>But the systematic arguments presented by both stevedores were met with a succinct rebuttal from a united group of road transporters, including the Container Logistics Action Group (CLAG) and Australian Trucking Association New South Wales (ATA NSW).</p> <p>ATA NSW and CLAG said they were &#8220as one&#8221 on the major issues, responding to a tag-team assault from the stevedores by saying &#8220we didn’t see this as a debate&#8221.</p> <p>The truck groups said they would prepare detailed responses to all of the claims made by the stevedores once a transcript of the hearing was available.</p> <p>ATA NSW manager Hugh McMaster pressed for performance measures for landside logistics and said there needed to be better incentives for the truck operators to move to a 24&#477 operation. </p> <br />