AusRAIL, Market Sectors

Samuel to review ACCC probe into stevedore booking system

<p>Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Graeme Samuel has sought a review of a probe into the 1-Stop vehicle booking system, he revealed yesterday (Monday, July 17) at the <em>Lloyd’s List DCN</em> AusIntermodal conference in Melbourne.</p> <p>Answering Victorian Transport Association deputy chief executive Neil Chambers’s plea from the floor for a solution to the impasse in vehicle booking rationalisation created by the ACCC’s investigation, Mr Samuel said he was "very sensitive" to complaints about how the issue was being handled.</p> <p>Mr Samuel said he had asked for a "complete review" because "the investigators may not understand all the issues that may affect the industry". </p> <p>"I want to bring this investigation to a close," he said.</p> <p>Later, Mr Samuel told <em>Lloyd’s List DCN</em> that investigations were constantly reviewed but that he had been aware of concerns about where this one had been heading after "several people" raised them. However, he did say that this was a "normal procedure".</p> <p>Mr Samuel’s response went some way to placate Mr Chambers, who said his members had been "stymied" by the probe in their efforts to have a workable vehicle booking system in place at ports.</p> <p>The initial complaint came from transport users in NSW, who alleged collusion by P&#38O Ports and Patrick Corp in developing the 1-Stop system.</p> <p>Earlier, Mr Samuel explained the thinking behind the ACCC’s Toll-Patrick merger decision, saying the ACCC was about ensuring competition, not shaping markets, and the importance of behavioural undertakings by Toll, saying they were legally enforceable. </p> <p>He urged industry players to form an alliance as a matter of urgency to take advantage of Toll’s forced divestments, including 50% of Pacific National, to create a competitor powerful enough to compete with Toll.</p> <p>&#8220It’s up to industry to come to the party, too,&#8221 he said.</p> <p>Mr Samuel said this was a unique window of opportunity that could close soon but, given that five-year jail sentences for transgressions were due next year, advised companies to talk to the ACCC on this and other issues to avoid breaching competition rules.</p> <p>Mr Samuel issued a strong warning to Toll in response to market speculation that a passive investor might take up management of Pacific National, thereby allowing Toll effective control of Pacific National.</p> <p>&#8220We will not stand by and allow Toll to have a cosy relationship&#8221 with any new Pacific National management, he said.</p> <br />