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


Everett, S and Robinson, R, Policy, politics and port efficiency: insights from Australian port development strategies, IAME 2010 Conference Proceedings, 7-9 July 2010, Lisbon , pp. 1-13. (2010) [Refereed Conference Paper]


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freight and supply chain systems the traditional statutory authority ports serving a publicly utility function have been replaced by commercially oriented government owned businesses with the former port authorities retreating increasingly from direct commercially oriented responsibilities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.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Conference Paper
Keywords:ports, port governance, policy, non EU shipping and port policies
Research Division:Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services
Research Group:Transportation, logistics and supply chains
Research Field:Logistics
Objective Division:Transport
Objective Group:Other transport
Objective Field:Other transport not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Everett, S (Professor Sophia Everett)
UTAS Author:Robinson, R (Professor Ross Robinson)
ID Code:68529
Year Published:2010
Deposited By:NC Ports and Shipping
Deposited On:2011-03-14
Last Modified:2014-11-05

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