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Tuesday, 30 November 1965

Mr McEWEN - I think that tq describe the proposal that is in mind as a plan might connote too much of an atmosphere of finality and precision. What has happened is that senior officers of the Department of Trade and Industry, with the aid of other people, have conducted a quite extensive and meticulous study of the shipping services of the European and United Kingdom Conference Lines to and from Australia. From this study, and with the aid of computers and calculations, they have reached the conclusion that I have mentioned in this House, namely that a rationalisation of services would involve a quicker loading of ships through calling at fewer ports for the purposes of loading, with more voyages per annum resulting from each ship. This would need co-operation both of the ship owners and shippers at both ends. The calculated conclusion was that if this were done in a complete manner it could result in a saving of £6i million a year, a saving which would neither accrue in totality to the ship owners nor go entirely to the shippers in freight saving, but which ought to be divided in some equitable and proper manner. The shipping interests from London and the Continent have come to Australia. They were sufficiently persuaded that there was something in this proposal. They have conducted discussions with our people in Australia and discussions which might even be described as negotiations are proceeding in London at the present time. A very senior officer of the Department of Trade and Industry is in London at present on this mission. I am not confident of the outcome but I am hopeful. Nothing will be spared on the Government side to try to bring about a constructive result.

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