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Wednesday, 30 March 1966


Mr FREETH (Forrest) (Minister for Shipping and Transport) . - There used to be a quaint old fashioned courtesy in this place that was observed by honorable members. When they intended to raise a matter on the adjournment, they notified the appropriate Minister. By good fortune I happened to be in the House tonight and heard the speech of the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson). The problem he has mentioned is, of course, no new problem; it is a long continuing one. I was interested to hear him say that docking facilities were as necessary as wharves, ports, harbours and all the other services that go with shipping. This is perfectly correct. The Commonwealth, of course, has built a naval dock, because the Commonwealth has direct responsibility for its Navy. But the Commonwealth is not directly responsible for wharves, harbours or any of the other services that go with shipping. Indirectly, of course, it has a continuing interest in these matters; but they are mainly the responsibility of the State Governments and private enterprise. Docking is a commercial activity.

I know that the party to which the honorable member belongs is- a Socialist party and as such it has no regard whatever for the plain economies of these matters. The honorable member suggests that we should put a dry dock on the coast of Western Australia. As a Western Australian, I would be delighted to see one there; but the plain truth is that the concentration of shipping on the Australian coast is mainly on the east coast. Apart from the occasional breakdown of overseas ships, shipping companies prefer to put their ships into dock for maintenance and other attention at places where they can pay off the crew, where they have hired the crew and so on. As I say, the honorable gentleman has raised a matter of very considerable importance. I assure him that we are continuing .to look at this problem, but primarily it is not a responsibility of the Commonwealth Government.


Mr Benson - I wish to make a personal explanation. I apologise to the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) for not informing him that I intended to raise this matter. It was an oversight.







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