Port Management Amendment (Port of Melbourne Corporation License Fee) Bill 2011
Written on the 28 February 2012
I rise with pleasure to speak on the Port Management Amendment (Port of Melbourne Corporation Licence Fee) Bill 2011. Like Mrs Coote and Ms Pennicuik, who have also spoken on the bill, I have a large section of the port in my electorate of Southern Metropolitan Region. Many aspects of this issue impact on our region.
[Ms Pulford interjected].
Ms Pulford called this a great big new tax. I say to her that myki is a burden on Victorian taxpayers.
The bill introduces a port licence fee. It will be a flat annual fee of $75 million paid annually and indexed to CPI. It is far preferable to Labor's FIC, which would have taxed the hundreds of trucks that enter the port of Melbourne every day. It would have created massive costs for the trucking industry, which is already facing challenges with the higher cost of petrol and the soon-to-be-introduced carbon tax.
The cost imposition proposed by Labor was of particular concern to the many small trucking operators and businesses throughout Victoria, who simply could not bear another cost impost on the day-to-day running of their businesses. This is a far simpler and less complex way of getting rid of what was proposed under the previous government. That regulatory burden would have amounted to some $100 million, should it have been put in place. As Mrs Coote pointed out, there was a shortfall of $25 million in relation to its annual cost of $75 million.
In his contribution Mr Drum pointed out that there has been support from various parts of industry. The Victorian Employers Chamber of Commerce and Industry congratulated the minister on his consultation. On its blog site VECCI says:
'VECCI has been a long-time advocate for removing the FIC and we're glad the state government consulted with industry and acknowledged our concerns about the red tape burden the FIC would impose on operators using the port.'
Phil Lovel, chief executive of the Victorian Transport Association, is reported to have endorsed the new system and said he is pleased the government listened to concerns raised by the trucking industry. He is also reported to have said:
'Scrapping the previous government's tax on trucks using Swanson Dock, is the right decision ...'
That is a fairly significant and overwhelming endorsement in relation to the previous so-called charge that was going to be imposed on that industry.
Mrs Coote made a point about the size of the port of Melbourne.
It is the busiest container port in the country. In the second-reading speech the minister said that last year it accounted for approximately 36 per cent of the national container trade and that the movement of containers is expected to quadruple by 2030. To keep our economy strong and competitive, rather than allowing an impost on businesses throughout Victoria, such as the previous government's proposed FIC, we will allow a port to charge a fee. We need to help businesses to flourish.
With that contribution, I conclude by saying I am pleased the minister has taken into consideration many of the issues that were raised by the trucking industry that would have affected many small, and indeed large, businesses across the state. Like other members of the government, I support this bill and commend it to the house, and I will not be supporting Ms Pulford's amendment.