Freight & Trade Alliance (FTA) and the Australian Peak Shippers Association (APSA) have announced they have received extensive examples from members highlighting the "unreasonable administration of container detention fees".
This has been used as evidence as a part of a supplementary submission to the Productivity Commission calling for regulation to end "the blatant misuse of this practice", according to a statement.
"Our industry is paying more than one billion dollars per annum for fees in addition to record high freight rates and a spate of surcharges," pointed out the two organisations.
According to the statement, the mentioned fees are terminal access charges and container detention fees.
"What is clearly a windfall for foreign owned shipping lines contributing to their multi-billion dollar annual profits, is adding to the current cost of living and inflationary pressures being felt across Australia with charges being passed down the supply chain, adversely affecting manufacturers, farmers, rural communities, and consumers," noted FTA and APSA.
The statement added that since providing the original FTA/APSA submission on 11 February, the operational environment has worsened because of "vessel bunching", limited operating hours of facilities to receive empty containers, extreme supply chain labour shortages and in many cases, the detention clock starting at a time when cargo is physically unavailable for collection from the wharf.
FTA and APSA claim that while they are engaging with the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment to improve efficiency and meet the increasingly complex biosecurity protection task, members continue to report excessive delays in booking requests and inspection timings.
"This is hitting hard – everyone from major retailers through to small businesses," highlighted the two bodies.
"Freight forwarders, customs brokers and transport companies are left with the unenviable task of trying to explain this unbudgeted and unreasonable fee to importers and exporters costing anywhere from hundreds of dollars per consignment up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in some circumstances," they added.
FTA and APSA highlight the need for federal government action and potential regulation, similar to US Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) to ensure reasonable container detention policies are administered.