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Thursday, 14 May 1970

Mr SINCLAIR - I think it needs to be recognised that while John Burke Ltd in the past had an Australian identity, today it is a fully owned subsidiary of an overseas company. The John Burke company has played a notable and worthwhile part in the development of shipping services for northern Australia. At the same time it is significant that as a result of remarkable developments in the north there is a considerable increase in cargo flow and consequently new vessels are necessary. It is essential that there be an adequate cargo capacity; alternatively, overseas vessels will need to be introduced either under short term permit or by licence to carry the cargoes. In order to provide more job opportunities and to provide cheaper cargo flow, an approach was made through the Commonwealth Government by Australian Territory Liner Services to import 2 vessels, to replace these 2 vessels by 2 Australianbuilt vessels, to crew the 2 vessels wilh Australians, and to supplement services to north Queensland and to northern Australian ports.

As a result of discussions between John Burke Ltd and Australian Territory Liner Services an agreement has been reached which, I believe, will be to the satisfaction of both John Burke Ltd and shippers of cargo throughout northern Australia. It will ensure not only that there will be more adequate capacity for the future but also adequate job opportunities for Australians and adequate building requirements for Australian shipyards. At the same time I think it needs to be recognised by those who sail on these vessels that if adequate job opportunities are to be provided for them it is necessary that they act responsibly and, if necessary, that management acts responsibly. In the past the situation regarding ships trading on the Australian coast has not been particularly happy and Australian coasting operations have been at an extraordinarily high cost. Ships generally have not been capable of competing with other forms of transport, with the result that freight charges and casts to outlying communities have been far higher than one might regard as being reasonably necessary. I believe that the services that are to be provided by John Burke Ltd and Australian Territory Liner Services will complement each other very satisfactorily and that the product of the agreement between the 2 companies will be eminently satisfactory to all Australians.

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