TasPorts resolves ACCC case with no penalty

TasPorts confirmed today that it had resolved a case with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) following mediation on the basis that TasPorts will pay no penalty.


05 May 2021

The Federal Court made orders by consent on 4 May 2021 dismissing all allegations that TasPorts’ conduct had the ‘purpose’ or ‘actual effect’ of substantially lessening competition.

As part of the settlement, TasPorts agreed to admit that its conduct in relation to one allegation had the ‘likely effect’ of substantially lessening competition.

TasPorts CEO Anthony Donald said the company was pleased to have resolved the case. “TasPorts’ focus, at all times, is maintaining the highest standards of maritime safety and environmental management in accordance with our regulatory obligations,” he said.

The ACCC initiated legal proceedings in 2019, making a number of allegations of misuse of market power. The issues raised by the ACCC were complex, based on a unique set of circumstances and involved a previously untested provision of the Competition and Consumer Act.

As part of the mediated settlement, TasPorts admitted one of the breaches alleged by the ACCC, concerning a proposed tonnage charge for Port Latta, in North West Tasmania.

“Tonnage charges for Port Latta are a unique legacy issue that dates back to the Marine Board of Hobart and Circular Head, prior to the formation of TasPorts in 2006,” Mr Donald said.

“TasPorts is pleased to now move towards normalising those arrangements consistent with other ports around the state.”

TasPorts has given enforceable undertakings to the ACCC regarding the tonnage charge, access to berth space and port communication systems.

The case was finalised in a hearing in the Federal Court on 4 May 2021. TasPorts was represented in the matter by Matthew Lees of law firm Arnold Bloch Leibler and Michael Hodge QC.

Looking ahead, Mr Donald said that the company was entering an exciting growth phase.

“With our principal objective to facilitate trade for the benefit of Tasmania, we have an ambitious growth agenda and major infrastructure pipeline which is designed to future-proof the state’s multi-port system and facilitate exponential trade growth,” Mr Donald said.