“A word to the wise…”

There’s a place on the globe we call “down under” because everything there seems to be upside-down or backwards. In the summer months it gets bitter cold down there, and when we’re skiing and tobogganing up here they’re complaining about the heat. They’re complaining about the heat right now, too, but it’s about “heat” from the government. The government down there has become dissatisfied with the general lack of ability among port authorities, and citing such critical issues as port planning and the failure to develop and improve port and inland supply chain infrastructure, the Prime Minister is thinking about taking over. In spite of the many differences between up here and down there, however, many similarities surfaced when the government provided the rationale behind its intentions. The drawbacks in port operations which have disturbed the government down there bear a strong resemblance to those having adverse effects on our port operations up here.

• Because too many cooks spoil the soup, streamlining the number of infrastructure regulators is being recommended by the Prime Minister’s infrastructure task force.

• Rulings on port access and the prices charged to port users will more than likely be taken out of the hands of port authorities and centralized in a national agency.

• Ships waiting for lengthy periods off the coast for berthing assignments are an unacceptable development and is weighing heavily in the commonwealth’s decision to intervene.

• Environmental groups have expressed outrage at dredging proposals, even though larger than usual container ships cannot transit the ports.

• Being empowered under the Constitution to regulate trade and commerce is convincing the government that action must be taken in the national interest.

• Representatives of companies that have been unable to export in timely fashion are welcoming the proposed intervention. “We agree with the philosophy of a single regulator,” said one chief executive.

In our November 19th commentary we ended with this paragraph:

“Mr Widdows is giving every terminal operator and every port official fair warning, and forewarned is forearmed. He made a point of emphasizing the infrastructure crises in all the principal ports of the world and not just the U.S. ports, and this worldwide problem makes it obvious that no one knows of a solution and that the many costly attempts at buying time have proved to be futile. Our patented system solves space problems, labor problems, money problems, employment problems, distribution problems, delay problems, etc., etc. Or are we waiting for government intervention?”

[Impossible, you say? Ever hear of the Department of Homeland Security?]