SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA — The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has decided not to exempt Viterra’s Port Lincoln and Thevenard facilities from parts of the Port Terminal Access (Bulk Wheat) Code due to lack of competition.
The decision means that Viterra will continue to be subject to the non-discrimination requirements of the code at its Port Lincoln and Thevenard facilities and must also provide access-related dispute resolution processes for exporters. Viterra also will continue to require ACCC approval for any changes made to its capacity allocation systems and must publish certain information about expected capacity and bulk grain stocks held at these port terminals.
“After looking at the South Australian grain industry and latest shipping data in detail, we consider that Viterra doesn’t currently face sufficient competition at its Port Lincoln and Thevenard facilities to justify removing certain protections for independent exporters seeking to export wheat through these ports,” said Mick Keogh, deputy chair of the ACCC. “We acknowledge that T-Ports’ Lucky Bay operation now provides an alternative export pathway for certain areas of the Eyre Peninsula, particularly the eastern section. However, at this time we consider that the higher level of protections for exporters under the code is needed to ensure they can continue to gain fair and transparent access to Viterra’s facilities.”
Keogh continued to emphasize the ACCC’s decision to not exempt the two ports were in the best interest of the growers and the industry but will continue to monitor competition as the market changes.
The ACCC said Viterra also is required to deal with exporters in good faith, publish a port loading statement and loading procedures, and make standard terms and reference prices available in relation to all of its port terminal facilities as part of the Bulk Wheat Code.
Viterra made applications to be exempt from Parts 3 to 6 of the Code at all six of its South Australian port terminals in July 2019. In April 2021, the ACCC made final determinations exempting Viterra’s Inner Harbour and Outer Harbor facilities in Port Adelaide where there is more competition, but determined not to exempt Viterra’s Port Giles and Wallaroo facilities due to lower levels of competition.