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Fremantle abandons exclusive licences

THE Fremantle Port Authority (FPA) has opted against proposals to offer exclusive licences for its $20 million annual towage business and will issue its incumbent service provider Adsteam Marine, with a non-exclusive licence.

In December, the FPA indicated it may follow Bunbury by offering an exclusive licence to overseas interests to target reductions in towage fees which represent 30 per cent of ship visit costs.

But these plans have been under a cloud since February after the newly elected Gallop Government declared it viewed exclusive licences as tools to employ workers on individual contracts rather than collective union negotiated agreements.

Bunbury’s new towage service provider, Riverwijs – a joint venture between Dutch towage giant Wijsmuller and Riverside Marine, of Brisbane – has argued exclusive licences inject competition into the towage sector because they ensure a price war is not sparked by the incumbent service provider.

Fremantle Port Authority chairman Ron Aitkenhead said the new two-and-a-half year non-exclusive licence, to be effective from June 2001, would result in average reductions of 15 per cent in towage charges and the removal of penalty rates at the Kwinana outer harbour.

The Adsteam proposal offered the highest technical, operational and commercial benefits to port users out of the 10 submissions received from Australian and international companies.

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