The corporatized Australian port system: are there legislative constraints upon the effective operation of the model?
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 11:06 authored by Tabatha Michelle Pettitt
Many of Australia’s government-owned port corporations operate under legislation thatcreates a corporatized business framework which aims to distance government from the daily operations of ports. Effective corporatization requires legislation which creates a framework that will allow government-owned port corporations to emulate the commercial conduct of private sector firms and be competitive and profitable. There is no uniform port corporatization framework existing in Australia because the frameworks in place have been customized to the needs of the governments in each particular case. As a result, a number of different versions have been implemented across the jurisdictions of Victoria, Tasmania, New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory. Whilst each state and the Northern Territory has enacted its own legislation and created its own port governance frameworks, these are all variations of two models: the Statutory State-Owned Company (SSOC) and the Government-Owned Company (GOC). SSOC port corporations are subject to the requirements of the specific legislation that created them. GOC port corporations are created subject to the requirements of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) which regulates Australian corporations. The SSOC and GOC models differ in the extent of the powers granted to each port corporation and its Board of Directors, as well as the role and degree of influence permitted to shareholding government Ministers. Under the SSOC model the responsibilities of government are embedded within the legislation and potentially allow more scope for political interference than with the GOC model where the scope for overtpolitical interference is generally minimal. There has been little research undertaken from a legal or empirical perspective evaluating and measuring the function and role of government upon the operation of Australian ports. There is a real need to examine whether there are any constraints imposed by the legislation on port corporations. This thesis fills the gap by investigating whether the legislation in place has provided an appropriate framework that will enable each port corporation's business and commercial objectives to be fully realized.