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Money Cruising contract under scrutiny from ACCC

14:42  12 march  2018
14:42  12 march  2018 Source:   msn.com

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Carnival and the Port of Brisbane have come under fire for a commercial deal which could limit competition in the cruise ship industry, worth a billion dollars a year to Queensland.

The partly confidential contract gives Carnival preferential use of a new cruise ship terminal under construction at Luggage Point, which could see rival liners snub the river city altogether.

The Queensland Government had invited media to witness the progress of the new terminal, from the deck of the Queen Mary II.

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Definition of under scrutiny in the Idioms Dictionary. under scrutiny phrase. * under (close) scrutiny . Fig. being watched or examined closely. (*Typically: be ~; have someone or something ~; keep someone or something ~.)

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The Cunard liner, owned by parent company Carnival, had been forced to drop her anchor in front of the grain terminal at the Port of Brisbane, currently the only location exceptionally large ships can dock.

"It's a bit third worldish, isn't it,” passenger Terry Adsett told 9NEWS.

Another passenger, Jim Curtain labelled the dock conditions "shocking. Bloody awful."

It’s the reason the new $158 million cruise ship terminal is being built. But not by the Queensland Government.

The funds are instead coming from a contractual arrangement between Carnival and the Port of Brisbane - an arrangement which is now under investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

ACCC documents reveal Carnival will pay an undisclosed but reportedly “significant” sum to the Port, guaranteeing Carnival and its subsidiaries like P&O preferential birthing at the new terminal. Exclusive rights to dock 100 days a year, up to four days a week and Carnival can pick the days.

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Carnival CEO Ann Sherry defended the contract telling 9NEWS "our investment has been critical to get, I guess, the Queensland facilities up to the standard you'd expect. The ACCC hasn't said its anti-competitive".

But competitors believe it is, claiming Carnival's contract would essentially lock them out of the lucrative summer market altogether, the peak cruising season, and forcing passengers from competing lines like Royal Caribbean to dock instead at the old grain terminal or sail past Brisbane altogether.

Tourism Minister Kate Jones declined to respond directly to questions about the contract except to say, “the ACCC is looking at this, what they don’t need is political commentary from me".

While the ACCC has yet to make a final decision, it has highlighted in its draft determination that Carnival's preferential berthing arrangement could “limit or prevent” competition from opposing cruise liners.

But the competition watchdog will block another clause in the contract that gives Carnival first rights to a second dock, if, it is ever built down the track at the new terminal.

The ACCC will hand down its findings next month.

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