Independent review offered for Marina fees

Published: 17th April 2019

Ports North has agreed to an independent review of the fees it charges reef operators to use the Cairns Marlin Marina.

Ports North Chairman Russell Beer said the port believed the current offer to six longer-term reef boat operators was fair and would deliver a level playing field for all operators that use the marina.

However, he said the port was ready to work with the operators and would meet their request to bring in an independent umpire to judge the fairness of the Ports North offer.

“Our position has always been that users of the marina only pay for the cost of using the asset – nothing more,” Mr Beer said. “That includes bringing this group of operators, who currently pay 12 per cent less than everyone else, up to the same level as everyone else.”

Mr Beer said that as a Government-Owned Corporation, Ports North was required by law to act in a commercial way and was responsible for managing assets in the best interests of tax-paying Queenslanders.

“Our fees make up less than three per cent of a reef operator’s published ticket price, which typically amounts to between $2 and $4 per passenger, depending on the size of the vessel and the number of passengers,” Mr Beer said. 

“That is three per cent of ticket prices that operators sell from between $79 to $220 per person.

 “If these operators want an independent assessment of our user-pays fees then we will offer that.”

Mr Beer said Ports North was willing to support an independent assessment of fees based on user-pays principles as part of the way forward with operators.

He also challenged the relevance of reef operators’ claims that Cairns’ marina fees were higher than other Queensland marinas.

“Our fees differ to other marinas, just as the Hilton Hotel in Cairns doesn't charge the same rate as the Tolga backpackers or the Park Hyatt in Sydney,” he said. 

“Our Marina facilities in Cairns are significantly better than the marinas that operators are comparing us to.”

 Mr Beer said Ports North had been in negotiations with the group of reef boat operators for more than a year and would continue negotiations in good faith.”


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