About Victoria's commercial ports

Victoria's commercial trading ports are engines for economic growth. They provide critical transfer points in Victoria’s transport network and connect Victoria to international markets.

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Victorian Ports Review

Victoria’s commercial ports are the conduit for around $26 billion worth of locally produced and manufactured exports and handle almost a quarter of Australia’s total food and fibre exports. 

With freight volumes expected to more than double over the next three decades, the importance of our ports will only grow. 

The Independent Review of the Victorian Ports System is the first holistic review into the ports system in 20 years and since then the system has gone through significant changes, including the introduction of a third stevedore in 2015 and leasing of the Port of Melbourne in 2016.

The first Victorian ports review since 2001 was undertaken through 2020 and included extensive consultation across industry and stakeholders, including commercial port and local port operators. 

Overall, the Independent Review of the Victorian Ports System made 63 recommendations, all of which are supported by the Victorian Government, together with long-term reforms that reinforce open market access to ensure the sustainable economic future of Victoria’s ports.

The full government response addresses these recommendations, while setting out the three main areas of action:

  • Establishing Ports Victoria, including creating Ports Victoria’s legislative charter, and outlining key reforms including to pilotage and towage services.
  • Developing the Victorian Commercial Ports Strategy which will further define the government’s stewardship role and articulating the key steps in ensuring the future of Victoria’s ports.
  • Local ports and waterway management reforms that will seek to effectively support the economic and social value of these assets.

The Victorian Government has already acted to deliver on the review recommendations by creating Ports Victoria - a new state port entity to lead the strategic management and operation of Victorian commercial ports and waterways. 

Ports Victoria is headquartered in Geelong, recognising the city’s important role in Victoria’s ports system through GeelongPort and the future relocation of the Spirit of Tasmania. 

Ports Victoria commenced operations on 1 July and is led by the board Chair Howard Ronaldson, with Peter Mannion leading operations as the Chief Operating Officer.

We have begun work on the Victorian Commercial Ports Strategy with a key focus to engage and consult with commercial port operators and industry through Engage Victoria.

With a 30-year vision, the Victorian Commercial Ports Strategy will provide clear direction on the establishment of Bay West, explore trade and industry trends and network capacity impacting the sector, Port of Geelong channel optimisation, commercial port land-use protection and other themes identified in the review.

The Department of Transport is implementing the Sustainable Local Ports Framework as a critical first step to improve local ports management. Local ports support almost 10,000 jobs, contribute around $1 billion economic benefit every year and have a total replacement value of $650 million.

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Victorian Commercial Ports Strategy

The Victorian Government is developing a new Victorian Commercial Ports Strategy as a key response to the Independent Review of the Victorian Ports System, responding to industry’s feedback for a state-wide vision for the commercial ports sector.

With a 30-year vision, the key themes and directions identified for the strategy include: 

  • Bay West: establishment of protections to ensure future capacity, refinement of landside and waterside port options, relationship with Port of Melbourne capacity, and baseline data collection.
  • Trade demand: the port strategy will explore trade and industry trends impacting the sector and what infrastructure and policy responses may facilitate sector growth and resilience, including the role of ports in responding to changing energy trends. 
  • Transport network capacity: providing detailed analysis of each commercial port landside connectivity to ensure port capacity is not constrained.
  • Port of Geelong channel optimisation: Geelong port competitiveness is currently constrained by its channel characteristics and depth.  
  • Commercial port land-use protection: clarify and strengthen planning protections to reduce ambiguity and prevent incompatible and sensitive land use development in and around the port environs. 
  • Other themes identified in the review, such as Corner Inlet and potential commercial opportunities.

These themes have been informed by our extensive stakeholder consultation with the ports sector as part of the Independent Review of the Victorian Ports System.

The new strategy will further define the government’s stewardship role, outlining the key steps in ensuring the future of Victoria’s commercial ports. 

The strategy is a significant step in delivering on the actions outlined in Victoria’s Freight Plan, as well as putting in place a pathway for the future strategy for the Victorian ports sector. 

As a first step, we want to hear from commercial ports operators and industry to help shape the development of the new Victorian Commercial Ports Strategy for the next 30 years.

We invite commercial ports operators and industry to complete a survey on Engage Victoria website.

The strategy is expected to be completed in 2022.

Strategic Review of the Victorian Empty Container Supply Chain 

The Victorian Government is committed to working with stakeholders including shipping line operators, importers, stevedores, land transport operators and empty container parks to ensure Victoria’s containerised freight supply chain continues to operate efficiently and effectively. 

Freight Victoria engaged consultants NineSquared to undertake a review of the empty container supply chain in Victoria. 

The purpose of the review was to provide advice on how the empty container supply chain could be considered in work to develop the Voluntary Port Performance Model (VPPM).

Industry engagement was integral to developing the report prepared by NineSquared, with 28 industry stakeholders including empty container parks, stevedores, transport operators, shipping lines and industry bodies informing the final report. 

Feedback from industry has identified a confluence of factors causing issues being experienced in the empty container supply chain. 

The Department will determine how to implement the report’s recommendations, with further industry consultation expected to start in the coming weeks on how to expand the VPPM to cover the empty container supply chain.

This will build off the recently published second quarterly report for the Voluntary Performance Monitoring Framework, which was published in September 2021 and included the first indicator on the empty container supply chain, the load discharge ratio.

This measures whether trade is generating or removing surplus empty containers and will help monitor the level of empty containers in Melbourne. 

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Port of Melbourne Container Logistics Chain Study

Port of Melbourne, alongside the Victorian Government, commissioned the 2020 Container Logistics Chain Study, the first comprehensive study of Port of Melbourne container movements in over a decade to inform industry and the government on the container supply chain and the transport networks that underpin it.

Container management is important because 75 per cent of the Port of Melbourne’s trade is containerised, representing about 3 million containers annually. 

The study provides a current picture on container movements along the supply chain across Victoria and interstate, examining the port’s container flow, trends and changes since the last study in 2009, and the impact and nature of growth in container volumes. 

The strength of the transport, manufacturing and logistics sector in Melbourne’s outer western and outer south eastern suburbs is clear, with the study showing the area receives more than two thirds of the state’s container imports.

The report also outlines the importance of the planning system in both protecting and enabling industrial land use and supply chain efficiency, while managing this impact on residential amenity.

The information will support policy and investment decisions as Victoria prepares for an expected increase in the freight task to 900 million tonnes by 2051.

The Port Rail Shuttle Network and the proposed Western Interstate Freight Terminal at Truganina will be critical to improve the efficiency of our ports and freight network and ensure the efficient operation of the wider transport network and reducing truck movements on local streets. 

Projects like the West Gate Tunnel, the Port Rail Transformation Project and the redevelopment of the former Melbourne Market site on Footscray Road for freight purposes will all have a big impact on the container supply chain and the way containers move around Victoria, particularly around Melbourne. 

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Port Rail Transformation Project at the Port of Melbourne

We're moving more containers onto trains and reducing the number of trucks on local roads with the Port Rail Transformation Project (PRTP) to be built at the Port of Melbourne (PoM).

Design and early contract works for the infrastructure component of the PRTP have been awarded.  

Site investigations will be underway in March 2021, with construction planned to commence in July. The project is on schedule to be completed in 2023.

The $125 million investment in new rail infrastructure interfacing with the container terminal at East Swanson Dock is part of the Victorian Government’s work to continue driving the economic success of the port, which currently contributes $6 billion to the Victorian economy each year and is a crucial part of the state’s agriculture supply chain.

We made better rail access to the port a requirement in the legislation for the PoM lease and now it’s being delivered.

It’s a win for our exporters who have been paying high “last mile” costs when their goods arrive at the PoM Melbourne and reduces congestion at the port gate.

To make the project possible, the PoM has introduced an increase of $9.75 per 20-foot equivalent unit charge on full imported containers from June 2020. The funds raised from the charge will directly deliver new sidings and connections for the rail project. The charge keeps the port competitive with Port Botany and won’t apply to export containers.

The PRTP is a key component of our plans for a rail freight network to the port, including the Port Rail Shuttle Network initiative, the intermodal terminals at Truganina and Beveridge, signal automation at the Geelong Port and investments in the regional freight network.

We’ll closely monitor the progress of the project and keep looking at ways to improve port pricing and access, keeping Victoria’s regional exports cost-competitive and growing the state’s economy.

Learn more about Port Rail Transformation Project at the Port of Melbourne.

Port of Melbourne

The Port of Melbourne is Australia's largest maritime hub for containerised, automotive and general cargo.

It is a key economic asset for businesses and people across Victoria and south-eastern Australia.

The Port of Geelong

The Port of Geelong is Victoria's second biggest port, handling more than 10 million tonnes of product annually and dealing with around 600 vessel visits each year.

Its main commodities include crude oil, wood-chip, fertiliser and break-bulk cargo.

Port of Hastings

The Port of Hastings serves major international and domestic shipping movements that import and export oil, LPG, ULP and steel.

It also handles general cargo, project cargo, ship-to-ship transfer, pipe-laying operations and the lay-up and repair of oil rigs and floating platforms.

Port of Portland

The Port of Portland is a deepwater bulk port and the international gateway for the green triangle region, an area with abundant natural resources.

The port specialises in bulk commodities, particularly agricultural, forestry and mining products as well as aluminium and fertiliser.

Vessel management services

Ports Victoria manages commercial navigation of the channels in port waters of Melbourne, Port of Geelong and the Port of Hastings and oversees channel management for the Port of Portland. 

It also manages waterside emergency and marine pollution response, and is responsible for the management of Station Pier as Victoria’s premier cruise shipping facility.