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Friday, 12 September 1969

Mr SINCLAIR (NEW ENGLAND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister Assisting the Minister for Trade and Industry) - As usual the honourable member for Newcastle seems to be working from a basis of misunderstanding of Australia's participation in overseas trade. Initially Australia's participation is intended to enable the Government to look into the operation of overseas trade in three different types of cargo handling. It is intended that the participation in cellular container ships, vehicular deck ships and the combination operation to the east coast of America will enable the Australian National Line, as an operator, to assess the relative economies and efficiency of the various types of cargo handling. As a result it should be possible to determine the benefits that can be gained for the exporters of Australian cargoes from the use of the different types of ships. 1 have not said that the Australian National Line's participation of itself would prevent future freight increases. What I have said is that there will be no addition to the level of freights because of the extra accommodation or crewing costs incurred as a result of Australian manning and Australian conditions. In other words, because the standard of accommodation and the wages paid to Australian seamen are higher than they are in many other countries, there will be no additional increment in freight directly resulting from this.

In terms of the participation in freight negotiations, it will remain that freight will be determined as a result of discussions between the Australia to Europe Conference and each of the other conferences and the relevant shippers' association. The Government for the first time as a participating member through the Australian National Line will have a complete knowledge of the construction of the freight charges. It will be able directly to prevent unjustified increases of freights and it is towards this objective that the Government is working. I believe that this is a development of which the Government can rightly be proud. It is a development that will contribute substantially to the containment of future freight rises and it is, as I have said, towards this objective that the Government is working.

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