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Tuesday, 14 May 1985
Page: 1879

Senator VIGOR —Is the Minister representing the Minister for Trade aware that less-than-container-load cargoes in Melbourne which were previously packed into containers in off-wharf depots must now be delivered to the wharf between 7.30 a.m. and 2 p.m. only on weekdays and must be accompanied by much increased preliminary paperwork as a result of a union demarcation dispute between off-wharf labour unions and waterside workers? Does the Minister agree that this procedure, which has now been introduced in Sydney and Melbourne, will raise the costs to exporters, by direct charges, by between 10 and 20 per cent and leave their cargo at much greater risk of damage and pilfering through multiple handling? In light of yesterday's statement by the Minister for Trade, in which the importance of exports for Australia's economic well-being was stressed, what will the Government do to ensure that our exports are processed quickly, efficiently and cost effectively through our ports?

Senator BUTTON —The first thing I will do is try to get a proper answer to Senator Vigor's question from the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations. Senator Vigor gave me notice of this question, I think yesterday, but I was unable to obtain an answer prior to today's Question Time, and I apologise to the honourable senator for that. I would regard it as a matter of great regret if, as a result of a demarcation dispute on the Sydney waterfront, exporters had incurred increased charges of the kind suggested by Senator Vigor. It would certainly be detrimental to the exporting capacity and efficiency of this country. The Government would certainly approach the issue in that light. I will seek an early answer from the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations.