Welcome to the Australian International Movers Association

SYDNEY PORT CONGESTION @ 28TH SEPTEMBER 2020

Published: October 1, 2020

The AIMA Notice of 11th September 2020 referred to the serious congestion situation existing at the Port of Sydney due to –

  1. Container terminal congestion
  2. Recent and ongoing stevedore industrial action
  3. Major congestion at Sydney empty container parks

The result of the ongoing port congestion has seen the surplus of empty containers tied up in Sydney increase from 30,000 TEU/equivalent to 50,000 TEU/equivalent, with container empty parks full and vessels banked up waiting for a berth at the Port of Sydney.

With so many delays and vessels lined up for days and days unable to berth, the shipping lines have accordingly imposed congestion surcharges and details of these surcharges are attached.


There are 3 port operators at the Port of Sydney.

• DP World (Dubai ports) terminal
• Patrick terminal
• Hutchison ports terminal (lesser player)

DPW were subject to industrial action and on 19th September 2020 advised it had entered in arrangements with the Maritime Union whereby the union has undertaken not to impose any further industrial action prior to 1st November 2020. DPW remained operational as did Hutchison port terminal but has been affected by bans on overtime etc. On Friday 25th September 2020, DPW announced the Maritime Union had agreed to withdraw all industrial action at DP World Terminal in Sydney.

The busiest terminal in Sydney is Patricks who remain in dispute with the Maritime Union and that dispute is earmarked to be played out in the Fair Work Commission this week. Patrick’s terminal remains working but with union bans on overtime and certain other activities which prevent the normal throughput at the terminal.

Despite the above the bottom line is inroads are yet to be made into the backlog of vessels seeking to berth in Sydney nor the surplus of empty containers sitting at empty container parks and warehouses around Sydney.

AIMA, in conjunction with the APSA (Australian Peak Shippers Association) continue to lodge objections to the congestion surcharges and are engaged in lobbying the Government to become involved in the State and National interest.

Through their membership of APSA, AIMA is supporting action by the APSA who in turn are supporting Patricks in seeking a Fair Work Commission outcome to the dispute, so the massive backlog of containers can be reduced and the port congestion relieved.

Whilst AIMA has been able to achieve some concessions from their contracted export carriers (notably CMA-CMA/ANL and Hapag Lloyd) they are unable to otherwise influence the remaining lines in relation to surcharges on export containers and unable to influence any of the lines in relation to surcharges on import containers.

Consequently, AIMA Members in Australia will not have made any allowance for the port congestion surcharges resulting from the Sydney Port issues, which are likely to be levied on them through freight invoices for exports and port terminal handling/DTHC port charges invoices for imports.

In summary, the Port of Sydney is still currently operating but the backlog of containers will continue to grow until such time as the industrial action subsides.

In view of the situation in Sydney some carriers are bypassing the Port of Sydney (ONE LINE/Maersk) or not taking bookings to Sydney (Maersk) but all other carriers are still shipping into and out of Sydney and applying the port congestion surcharge.

It is hoped Government intervention will shortly become real but without a resolution of the industrial action, the congestion problem at the Port of Sydney will continue and may well expand into other ports like Melbourne, Brisbane and Fremantle where similar limited industrial action has already commenced.

We suggest you contact your AIMA Mover for further information regarding the port congestion surcharge and AIMA will issue further updates as the situation develops.

Kind regards
Philip Gordon
AIMA Chairman

28th September 2020

AIMA Sydney Port Congestion Summary of CGS Charges_28th September 2020

Frequently Asked Questions

Are all personal effects shipments into Australia subject to mandatory quarantine inspection?

Yes – Australia is in the fortunate situation of being one of the few countries relatively free of common pests and diseases found in other countries. For this reason, the Australian Government has mandated that all unaccompanied shipments of used personal effects, motor vehicles and vessels be screened and physically inspected at approved and licenced unpacking depots by Department of Agriculture and Water Resources inspection officers.

Why is there a fee for the mandatory quarantine inspection?

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources will only permit the unpacking of imported personal effects to occur within the confines of specially licenced and approved warehouses with adequate contamination containment measures, trained and accredited warehouse staff and the required electronic interface reporting systems. The fees for quarantine inspection, clearance and attendance charged by AIMA members cover the cost of annual depot licencing, use of bonded warehouse space, attendance and inspection fees for DAWR inspection officers and required interface software licencing.
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