The West

CBH to revamp ship access

Australia's competition watchdog continues to nip at the heels of CBH, this time over proposed changes to ship loading access.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission issued a draft decision last week that said it was likely to agree to a CBH proposal to vary an undertaking about how rival grain exporters get access its port terminals.

However, the ACCC rejected the co-operative's plans for a clause to buy back allocated capacity because of concerns that this was not transparent and that the criteria for electing to buy back capacity and selecting a customer were not clear.

The ACCC noted that at least two rival grain exporters - Gavilon and Emerald - had criticised the CBH buy-back proposal.

Gavilon said CBH should inform the industry as a whole if it intended to buy back allocated capacity.

Emerald said the proposal had major flaws, including advantages for CBH in port capacity auctions and the potential for collusion.

Gavilon and Emerald are facing their own problems in WA over unrelated matters. Emerald is facing legal action from WA growers who missed out of millions of dollars because of the poor performance of a grain pool while Gavilon recently slashed jobs in its Perth office.

CBH's latest rebuff from the ACCC comes after it lost a long- running battle to maintain monopoly status over WA's lucrative grain freight business.

CBH would not comment on its relationship with the ACCC, but logistics manager Andrew Mencshelyi defended efforts to refine the port access system.

Mr Mencshelyi said CBH was trying to improve the system in the interests of CBH and the industry.

"We are more than aware of the need for certainty and flexibility for exporters," he said.

Pastoralists and Graziers Association grains committee spokesman Leon Bradley said the system exposed CBH rivals to unexpected costs that were ultimately passed on to growers.

The West Australian

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