Australia markets close in 4 hours 45 minutes
  • ALL ORDS

    7,291.50
    +35.70 (+0.49%)
     
  • ASX 200

    7,060.50
    +36.90 (+0.53%)
     
  • AUD/USD

    0.7792
    +0.0020 (+0.26%)
     
  • OIL

    66.47
    +0.20 (+0.30%)
     
  • GOLD

    1,868.90
    +1.30 (+0.07%)
     
  • BTC-AUD

    57,921.50
    -418.59 (-0.72%)
     
  • CMC Crypto 200

    1,242.24
    +44.33 (+3.70%)
     
  • AUD/EUR

    0.6403
    +0.0011 (+0.17%)
     
  • AUD/NZD

    1.0771
    +0.0001 (+0.01%)
     
  • NZX 50

    12,401.29
    -9.18 (-0.07%)
     
  • NASDAQ

    13,312.91
    -80.21 (-0.60%)
     
  • FTSE

    7,032.85
    -10.76 (-0.15%)
     
  • Dow Jones

    34,327.79
    -54.34 (-0.16%)
     
  • DAX

    15,396.62
    -20.02 (-0.13%)
     
  • Hang Seng

    28,194.09
    0.00 (0.00%)
     
  • NIKKEI 225

    28,273.13
    +448.30 (+1.61%)
     

Tasmania state port company breached laws

·2-min read

Tasmania-government-owned company TasPorts has escaped a formal penalty after being found to have breached consumer and competition laws.

The Federal Court declared the business, which owns and operates the majority of the island state's ports, engaged in conduct that likely had the effect of substantially lessening competition.

It was found TasPorts breached a section of the competition and consumer act by imposing a new port access charge on one of its customers, mining company Grange Resources.

The charge was imposed after Grange notified TasPorts it was going to switch to Engage Marine Tasmania, a provider of towage and pilotage services.

TasPorts did not have a legal right to impose the new port charge and sought to impose it without conducting a full assessment of the cost of providing access services to Grange, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said in a statement on Wednesday.

There was a likelihood that if Grange agreed to pay the port charge, it would raise Grange's future costs of acquiring services from Engage Marine, the ACCC ruled.

"This is an important decision because port services play a pivotal role for the Tasmanian economy," ACCC chair Rod Sims said.

"This is the first time a corporation has been declared to have breached the revised misuse of market power law."

Section 46 of the competition and consumer act was amended four years ago following a review.

TasPorts has given a court-enforced undertaking it will ensure Engage Marine has access to berth space for tug boats in northern Tasmania on reasonable commercial terms, and that the charges it imposes on Grange are reasonable.

TasPorts will also spend at least $1 million on the wharf infrastructure at Inspection Head. The ACCC has therefore agreed not to press for a penalty order.

"Accepting this consent outcome ensures towage customers in northern Tasmania will receive the benefits from competition quickly," Mr Sims said.

The ACCC began legal proceedings in December 2019.

TasPorts CEO Anthony Donald said he was pleased to resolve the case, noting allegations that the company's conduct had the "purpose" or "actual effect" of substantially lessening competition were dismissed.