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Wednesday, 15 May 1957


Mr Bryant t asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -

1.   Do shipowners operating on the Australian coast group into trade associations for the purpose of fixing freight charges?

2.   What organizations are known to the Government, and what companies or private owners comprise each one?

3.   What are the current freight rates on wheat and wool to European ports and to Japan?

4.   Are these rates per ton mile comparable with those charged on other shipping routes?

5.   What were the rates current in 1949, 1952 and 1954?

6.   Are ships owned by the Commonwealth suitable for use in overseas trade and are any so used?


Mr McEwen - My colleague, the Minister for Shipping and Transport has referred this question to me. The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: -

1.   The major trading private companies operating only on the Australian coast are, with one exception, members of either the Associated Steamship Owners or the Independent Steamship Owners Association. These bodies announce uniform freight rates to be charged by private member companies. In practice all major trading companies operating only on the Australian coastline charge uniform freights. From the general tenor of the honorable member's question, however, it is assumed that he was referring to shipping between Australia and oversea ports. Companies engaged in this trade have formed a number of groups or associations. The objectives in forming these groups include such matters as the maintenance of regular sailings and negotiations with shippers and interested parties regarding freight rates.

2.   The organizations known to the Government are -

(a)   Australia/ United Kingdom-Continent Shipping Conference (which operates through the Australian Oversea Transport Association).

(b)   Australian/Eastern Shipping Conference.

(c)   Australia/New Zealand and South Sea Islands Pacific Coast Conference.

(d)   Australia/Indonesia/Malaya Shipping Conference.

(e)   Trans-Tasman Freight Conference.

(f)   Trans-Tasman Passenger Conference.

(g)   Australia/East Coast America Shipping Conference.

(h)   Australia/Pacific Island-New Guinea Shipping Conference.

(i)   Australia/ India Shipping Conference.

The companies comprising these associations are -

 

 

3.   The current freight rates for wheat and wool are -

(i)   Wheat (bulk) ex eastern Australian ports - (a) to European ports, approximately 195s. (Aust.) per ton; (b) to Japan - no charters have been arranged for some time and therefore no current rate exists.

(ii)   Wool (greasy) - (a) to European ports, net rate 3.95d. (Aust.) per lb.; (b) to Japan, net rate 3.15d. (Aust.) per lb.

4.   Rates per ton mile have not been computed as it is considered that they do not afford a suitable basis for comparison. Port conditions, turnround time, and stevedoring costs are factors which determine as much or more than the sailing distance involved and the different freight rates charged by these conferences.

5.   Freight rates on greasy wool were -

 

Wheat is carried principally in tramps as distinct from Conference Line vessels, and the freight rate for this commodity moves according to the current charter rates for ships on the Baltic Exchange. These rates are of such a fluctuating nature that it is not possible to quote the rate operating for any particular year.

6.   A number of the vessels operated by the Australian National Line are suitable for overseas voyages. At present because of slackness in the coastal trade and a shortage of tonnage arising from the Suez Canal closure, opportunities exist for the lifting of overseas cargoes without detrimental effect on interstate trade and opportunity has been taken by the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission to employ vessels (which may otherwise have had to be laid up) in overseas trades. At present nine vessels are engaged in overseas voyages.







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