SENIOR representatives of two of Australia’s most powerful grain bulk handlers have hit out against the port access code, a mandatory code imposed on major port operators to ensure all bulk wheat exporters fair and transparent access to port facilities.
Speaking at the Australian Grains Industry Conference (AGIC) in Melbourne earlier in the month Graham Bradley, GrainCorp chairman and Jimmy Wilson, CBH chief executive, expressed their doubts over whether a mandatory port code was required.
“I am against regulation if there is no market failure,” Mr Wilson said.
Mr Bradley said the code increased supply chain costs.
“Regulation is costly and it is a burden upon the supply chain which I don’t think we need.”
And the two men ramped up their rhetoric when it came to proposals from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the administrator of the code, to strengthen regulations regarding port access.
In a recent submission to a Department of Agriculture review into the code, rather than calling for a winding back of regulation, as argued by GrainCorp and CBH, the ACCC called for the code to be applied over all grain, not just wheat and the implementation of baseline regulatory requirements for access to upcountry networks.
Mr Wilson said these measures would harm the entire grain supply chain.
“It will severely impact zone quality control and management,” he said.
Mr Bradley agreed.
“It will reduce flexibility for a bulk handler to meet needs and mean there is less predictability within the system and it reduces the ability to be able to cut costs through those flexible arrangements.
“Ultimately it becomes more difficult for everyone in the logistics supply chain.”
The pair also called on all interested parties, both government and private sectors to work to improve supply chain infrastructure saying improvements were being made in other competiting countries, such as Ukraine, where GrainCorp now has an office.
Mr Wilson said CBH was working hard to create efficiencies.
“We have made $100 million in savings in recent years.”