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Wednesday, 15 August 2007
Page: 196

Mr NEVILLE (12:05 PM) —I rise to oppose the amendment but I support the spirit of some of the member for Batman’s initiatives. I, too, have a great interest in maritime training. In an earlier manifestation, I helped put together the first TAFE Maritime College in Bundaberg. It is still there. It has moved from East Bundaberg to Burnett Heads. I might add that the current minister has a million-dollar grant available to put a ring road around Burnett Heads that will facilitate activities at the port and also at that marine college and other facilities in the port precinct.

It is very important that we have training for our maritime sailors and the tradesmen associated with them. There needs to be an integrated approach to training. All the Maritime Legislation Amendment Bill 2007 does is bring two tertiary institutions together. It is not a difficult thing, but I would like to reinforce the point that maritime training is very important. In Bundaberg we have a naval cadet unit called the TS Bundaberg. A lot of the young people who go through that course end up at the Australian Defence Force Academy or go on to careers in the Navy, but a lot of them go to Launceston. A son of my best friend had his access into that industry through the cadet unit. It provides a focus for people who want to have a life at sea other than that in the Navy.

It has always been a surprise to me that we—probably the most distant nation from anywhere else in the world—are not a nation of sailors. You would think that we would be, but sadly we are not. Anything that we can do to reinforce the spirit of effective training is a good thing. I am sure that the reason for combining these two institutions was to create more tertiary gravitas there, which I hope will flow on to the young people who do courses at Launceston.

I would like to touch on two other matters that are marine connected and that the member for Batman touched on. One of the other matters is the importance of getting freight from our ports into the basins, particularly the basins of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. On our recent inquiry into the great freight task, as we called it, of the arterial road and rail systems of Australia and into their connectivity to the ports, we expected that there would be a lot of pressure for hubs at places like Shepparton, Parkes, Moree and Toowoomba. But strangely—and this confirmed something the member for Batman said—the pressure was for internodal hubs in the outer metropolitan basins of those three leading capital cities. One of the sad things is that we have enclosed our ports with too much development. This is not said as a criticism of any particular government; it has just been a trend of state and federal governments in the past not to reserve land around the ports. Brisbane is lucky in the sense that freight can move into the maritime environment by going east into Moreton Bay, but the others are pretty much constrained—as is the corridor into the port of Brisbane, which is very much constrained.

So the member for Batman makes a good point, but the matter is addressed in the report that we have recently issued. I am sure that the minister will take that into consideration when he looks at the report. In this particular report the committee said, ‘Let’s not go again and recommend more studies.’ Transport, in its four forms in Australia, has been inquired into endlessly—particularly the maritime aspects of it—so I think it is now time for action on these things. I think that will improve the efficiency of our maritime industry. It will improve the efficiency of our exports. It will give us, I think, a bigger maritime industry, and perhaps a shipping industry will develop. This highlights the even more important role that the new integrated Launceston tertiary institution will have in Australia’s future.