Questions without Notice – Port of Melbourne

Ms BRITNELL (Shadow Minister for Ports and Freight)  My question is to the Minister for Ports and Freight. Major stevedoring companies that operate at the port of Melbourne have increased their infrastructure access fee from $3.60 in 2017 to more than $80 per container at the start of 2019. Minister, in March 2016 the Treasurer promised that ‘the scope of regulated charges will be expanded to cover all trade charges for cargo and shipping movements’. Minister, how can your government’s promise of regulating these charges have failed so dismally?

Ms HORNE (Williamstown—Minister for Ports and Freight, Minister for Public Transport)  I would like to thank the member for her question. Living with the port on my doorstep, it is actually an issue that is very important to me. That is why when this government released the Delivering the Goods plan, Victorian freight charges were a key concern. We are bringing forward a review into regulating price charges as well as access to and from the port because for me, not only are the access charges really important but it is about getting from the paddock to the port, it is about growing our economy, it is about increasing our exports, and on a local front it is actually about getting trucks off the inner west streets.

We care about the productivity of the port and the efficient and cost-effective movement of goods in and out, and that is why we have got a plan to actually do that.

Ms BRITNELL (Shadow Minister for Ports and Freight) Minister, for dairy farmers who export and who are already under severe pressure because of the drought, these new charges are an additional $4200 annual cost per farm. Minister Donnellan promised an ‘expedited inquiry’ into these exorbitant fee increases in October 2018. Who is undertaking this review?

Ms HORNE (Williamstown—Minister for Ports and Freight, Minister for Public Transport) I would like to thank the member for her question. Look, we have listened to industry, and that is why we have established Freight Victoria as a one-stop shop for primary producers. It is for primary producers, it is for the freight and logistics industry and it is for local government to be able to get that information.

Mr Walsh: On a point of order, Speaker, on the issue of relevance, this is an issue that is very, very important to our export sector, particularly the dairy industry, and the question was very simple: who is actually undertaking this review? I ask you to bring the minister back to actually providing that information not only to the Parliament but also to the people of Victoria so they can have faith that the minister is actually doing this.

The SPEAKER: Order! The minister will come back to answering the question.

Ms HORNE: As I said, we are working with industry. We have established Freight Victoria to absolutely undertake this vital work.

Members interjecting.

The SPEAKER: Order!

Ms Allan interjected.

The SPEAKER: Order! With the assistance of the house, Minister!

Mr T Bull: On a point of order, Speaker, on relevance, you have asked the minister in her first question and her third to come back to answering the question that was asked. She has not done that. I would hope that she has not resorted in question time to pulling a possible parliamentary question out of her folder that does not relate at all to the question that was asked and reading from it. I would encourage you to have her answer the question appropriately. As our leader has pointed out, this has a very important impact for our dairy farmers right across rural and regional Victoria.

Members interjecting.

The SPEAKER: Order! I warn the Minister for Jobs, Innovation and Trade.

Ms Allan: On the point of order, Speaker, I ask that you rule this point of order out of order. In his eagerness to get to the dispatch box, the member for Gippsland East did not hear the minister very clearly answer the question. If he had spent a bit more time listening rather than practising his point of order, he might have heard the answer that the minister gave regarding Freight Victoria.

Ms Britnell: Further on the point of order, Speaker, I think the question was very, very specific—it was asking who. Minister, the industry are telling me that you have appointed someone. It is not Freight Victoria—

The SPEAKER: Order! The member for South-West Coast is not making a point of order. I ask the minister to come back to answering the question. Has the minister concluded her answer? The minister has concluded her answer.

Ms Allan interjected.

The SPEAKER: Order! The Leader of the House!