The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has released draft determinations proposing to exempt Newcastle Agri Terminal and Qube Holdings Limited from the full extent of regulation at the Port of Newcastle.
Port terminal service providers such as NAT and Qube are required to comply with the mandatory Code on bulk wheat terminal access. The ACCC is currently considering whether it is appropriate for either or both of NAT and Qube to be exempt service providers at the Port of Newcastle.
“The draft determinations set out the ACCC’s preliminary view that it is appropriate to exempt NAT and Qube at the Port of Newcastle,” ACCC Commissioner Cristina Cifuentes said.
“The ACCC considers that the level of competition and spare capacity at the Port of Newcastle means that, even if exempt, NAT and Qube will face sufficient incentives to provide fair and transparent access to wheat exporters.”
“The ACCC invites interested parties to respond to these preliminary views, and will consider them prior to reaching a final view.”
Exempt providers are not required to comply with the majority of the Code’s obligations, including obligations to not discriminate when providing access to port terminal services, submit port capacity allocation systems for ACCC approval, or publish information on stocks at port.
The Code provides that exempt providers will still be required to deal with exporters in good faith and publish certain information including a port loading statement and port loading procedures. In October 2014, the ACCC assessed GrainCorp Operations Limited to be an exempt service provider at the Port of Newcastle. The draft determinations for NAT and Qube build on the competition assessment undertaken by the ACCC as part of the GrainCorp process.
The ACCC is currently undertaking a nationwide exemption assessment process on a region by region basis. Today the ACCC also separately released an issues paper seeking views on whether to exempt GrainCorp and Quattro Ports at Port Kembla.
The ACCC is seeking responses to its draft determinations by 29 May 2015.
The draft determinations and other relevant documents are available at: Newcastle wheat ports exemptions assessments - NAT and Qube
The Wheat Code commenced on 30 September 2014 replacing the previous access undertakings regime administered by the ACCC. The Code regulates bulk wheat port terminal operators to ensure that exporters have fair and transparent access to port terminal services.
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