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Policy, politics and port efficiency: insights from Australian port development strategies

conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-23, 05:12 authored by Everett, S, Robinson, R

In rapidly changing freight and supply chain systems the traditional statutory authority ports serving a publicly utility function have been replaced by commercially oriented government owned businesses with the former port authorities retreating increasingly from direct commercially oriented responsibilities and, in some instances, have ceased to exist having been fully privatised.

These changes reflect different government policies and are not necessarily consistent with, or explicable, in terms of a Logical Positivist paradigm and models of economic rationality. Rather they are determined subjectively reflecting the ideological positions of incumbent governments, port decision-making models, changing market contexts and, certainly, the power positions and game plan of key players. Evaluation of policy effectiveness demands, therefore, an understanding of policy and policy-making mechanisms rather than the pursuit of an inevitably fruitless search for a cohesive economic theoretic framework. Indeed economic theory may provide a post hoc justification for politically determined decisions or a seemingly objective tool to assess government policy outcomes – at best offering only partial and incomplete explanations.

This paper investigates government policy in relation to deregulation and privatization of port and supply chain infrastructure. It will argue that policy objectives and mechanisms of deregulation change over time, as and when governments change and with port and cargo types. Furthermore, changing government policies require the enactment of new regulatory regimes some of which, rather than enhance a port or terminal’s competitive position, can in fact, lead to inefficiencies, have anti-competitive outcomes and result in supply chain disintegration.

This paper falls into three sections following an introduction which provides a background to the issues to be examined. Section 1 explores conceptually the relationship between government policy and privatization strategies. Section 2 investigates these changes in relation to a number of container and bulk, particularly coal and iron ore, ports in Australia: and section 3 examines the outcomes of these policies.

History

Publication title

IAME 2010 Conference Proceedings

Editors

IAME

Pagination

1-13

Department/School

Australian Maritime College

Publisher

IAME

Place of publication

Portugal

Event title

IAME: International Association of Maritime Economists Annual Conference

Event Venue

Lisbon

Date of Event (Start Date)

2010-07-07

Date of Event (End Date)

2010-07-09

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Other transport not elsewhere classified

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