Sunday 20th Oct, 2019

All’s fair for Brisbane grain exports, commission says

Port of Brisbane grain terminal. Photo: Port of Brisbane
Port of Brisbane grain terminal. Photo: Port of Brisbane

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is preparing to exempt two major Port of Brisbane grain terminals from key portions of the Wheat Code, essentially deregulating the export of wheat at the major Queensland port.

Handing down the Commission’s draft review of competition conditions at the port late last week, ACCC commissioner Cristina Cifuentes said the review had found the two terminals face sufficient competitive pressures to warrant their exclusion from Parts 3 and 6 of the code.

Terminals operated by Queensland Bulk Terminals (QBT) and GrainCorp are those being exempted.

Cifuentes said the ACCC’s preliminary assessments found QBT’s Brisbane facility faces strong and direct competition from GrainCorp’s facility, and vice versa.

The ACCC also found both terminals face significant competition pressure from containerised grain exports out of Brisbane’s major container terminals, which represent about 35% of total wheat exports from the port.

“The ACCC’s draft analysis also indicates that the two Brisbane terminals have spare export capacity,” Cifuentes expanded.

“Given the competition between them, this spare capacity would create incentives for both port operators to provide fair and transparent access to third party customers in the absence of full regulation.

“The ACCC has therefore made draft determinations that the full application of the Code is not required at QBT’s and GrainCorp’s Brisbane terminals.”

If the ACCC makes final determinations to exempt QBT and/or GrainCorp in relation to their Brisbane terminals, the commission says it will still undertake monitoring of the two Brisbane bulk wheat port terminal services to continue to assess the level of competition at these facilities into the future.

The ACCC’s full draft assessments of the Brisbane port terminals are set out in its draft determinations document, accessible here.

The ACCC is welcoming submissions from interested parties on its draft determinations, with a closing date for submissions of Thursday, September 10.