Port operations

Approval

What government approvals are required in your jurisdiction for a port operator to commence operations following construction? How long does it typically take to obtain approvals?

A licence to operate a port is typically separate from approvals required to commence use of recently constructed facilities.

The licensing regimes are particular to each port (see question 6).

Approvals to occupy and use facilities constructed at a port are governed by the building regulations in each state and may be subject to additional regulatory oversight by port authorities.

Typical services

What services does a port operator and what services does the port authority typically provide in your jurisdiction? Do the port authorities typically charge the port operator for any services?

The services provided by port operators vary depending on the contractual arrangement.

Port operators typically manage and coordinate the terminal(s) and may provide all services or may engage contractors to provide the services. Such services include pilotage, towage, mooring, stevedoring, bunkering, watchstanders, surveys and security. Users are charged for these services in addition to fees for wharfage, anchorage, berthage, storage, hazardous cargo and tonnage, port improvement and maintenance, and additional equipment.

Port authorities handle the management and coordination of commercial vessels within the port limits and undertake port maintenance. The port authorities charge for the activities and resources used by each vessel.

Access to hinterland

Does the government or relevant port authority typically give any commitments in relation to access to the hinterland? To what extent does it require the operator to finance development of access routes or interconnections?

Funding of major infrastructure projects at ports is often shared between state and federal governments and port authorities. The federal government recently announced a A$400 million rail upgrade project at Port Botany.

Port authorities may also be required to implement transport strategies such as those required under the Port Management Act 1995 (Vic), which require the Victorian Ports Corporation (Melbourne) to provide a rail access strategy within three years after the first lease of port land assets.

The extent to which an operator may be required to finance future development is particular to each concession. The arrangements can vary significantly from port to port.

Suspension

How do port authorities in your jurisdiction oversee terminal operations and in what circumstances may a port authority require the operator to suspend them?

Port authorities oversee terminal operations under the regulatory framework applicable to the port. Responsibilities for aspects of operations may be allocated under specific instruments such as the Port Management Acts that exist in a number of Australian states.

It is not practical to list arrangements for each port, but repeated failure to adhere to concession conditions, particularly security, safety and environmental conditions, may permit suspension or other step-in rights.

Port access and control

In what circumstances may the port authorities in your jurisdiction access the port area or take over port operations?

This depends on the terms of any concession. Typically step-in rights can be exercised in emergency situations, to avert or minimise the risk of injury or harm to persons, property or the environment.

Failure to operate and maintain

What remedies are available to the port authority or government against a port operator that fails to operate and maintain the port as agreed?

Remedies are typically governed by the terms of any concession.

Transferrable assets

What assets must port operators transfer to the relevant port authority on termination of a concession? Must port authorities pay any compensation for transferred assets?

A port operator will often be required to surrender assets, including improvements and fixtures, to the port authority without compensation on the expiration or termination of a concession.