Shipping Australia has called upon Premier McGowan to protect Fremantle Ports, a vitally important institution for the continued economic well-being of Western Australians, from inappropriate development proposals.
We have become concerned about proposals to develop a film studio at the waterfront on, or near, land used by Fremantle Ports for essential international trade related operations. The proposed location, it appears, is likely to be near, or on, Victoria Quay.
Fremantle Ports is a vital centre for Western Australia’s international trade. It handles 30.4 million tonnes of cargo a year, worth AUD$31.34 billion per annum. This cargo includes the handling of over 100,000 cars and the equivalent of about 807,000 twenty foot shipping containers a year. We also understand there will be a new port near Fremantle, but that will take a long time to develop, and our members are concerned about costs and delays in the near future if this inappropriate studio development proceeds.
Not opposed to the development of a film studio
Firstly, we want to make it absolutely clear that we are not opposed to a proposal to develop a film studio somewhere in Fremantle, or, indeed, elsewhere in Western Australia. We are in favour of investment that would boost cultural and economic opportunities.
But the film studio development must not proceed at or near Fremantle Ports at the expense of ordinary Western Australians who rely on being able to import or export cars, goods and other commodities through the port.
Studio could adversely affect trade operations
Shipping Australia is very concerned that this development would adversely affect trade through Fremantle Ports.
Our members fear that the proposed film studio development will remove between 1,000 to 1,500 car
slots from the existing 3,000 car slots that are currently available.
We are advised by shipping line members that there is already an “extreme shortage” of ground wharf stowage space for cargo. Scarce capacity inevitably hinders shipping. Vessels that are due to enter port must already wait offshore
before being allowed to berth and discharge.
Any delay is already extraordinarily expensive. The current one-day cost of delay (without including fuel) can be estimated at about AUD$129,000 a day for a 4,000 TEU vessel. Companies operating large fleets, or calling regularly at Fremantle, would be very severely disadvantaged if there is a reduction in port capacity.
We can only speculate that the increased costs, and the costs of delays, would likely be passed on to local businesses.
In the past, in other situations, it can be observed that shipping lines have issued surcharges on freight to cope with increased costs.
Bear in mind that, in Australia, 99.92% of everything that is imported or exported to or from Australia is freighted by sea. The overwhelmingly vast majority of the goods that we buy in shops are transported here by sea (although small volumes are transported by air). Pretty much every car or vehicle that is imported into Australia is transported by sea.
It therefore seems likely that increased charges would inevitably affect Western Australian businesses and, ultimately, Western Australian families who would likely ultimately pay higher prices for goods that they buy in local shops and from local businesses.
Film studio must be located elsewhere
Shipping Australia has urged Premier McGowan to oppose the location of a film studio in any site that would hinder port operations or that would result in a reduction of already scarce port land.
We have also urged the McGowan administration to carry out industry consultation in respect of any development of a film studio in any location that would potentially reduce capacity at the port or would in any way hinder its functioning.