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Tuesday, 2 June 1970

Mr SINCLAIR - I know that the honourable member has on many occasions expressed to me his concern at the high level of transport costs to the Northern Territory, lt was with that in mind that the Government accepted the proposed plan for port modifications in Darwin and that the Australian National Line programmed for the construction of the "Darwin Trader', which is a new combination ship with 5 hatches that will carry containers and 3 hatches that will carry bulk commodities. The ship is at present undergoing sea trials off Newcastle. When it comes into operation it will enable some backloading to be achieved.

The Australian National Line has operated now for some 1 1 years without any adjustment in ils tariffs. Indeed, over that time concessions have been given in the Tasmanian trades and in the Darwin trades for different forms of unitised cargo handling. For example, some years ago on the Darwin trade a concession of 121% on the scheduled rate was given for goods (hat were handled in pallets. The proposition now is that the Australian National Line will, with the introduction of the container service, provide an all through service in the sense that it will provide transport from depot to depot. In the past the freight rate has been levied only on the cost of moving goods from wharf to wharf. The impost in future will relate to a total all through movement of cargo rather than to only the movement of cargo from wharf to wharf.

There is to be in the sea freight sector a 12i% increase to cover some of the enormous losses that have been incurred in the provision of services to Darwin in the last few years. At the same time I add that, by comparison with other forms of transport to Darwin, sea freight - which of course covers wharfage, transport from wharf to depot and stevedoring costs - will be onethird lower than the all through road freight rate from Melbourne to Darwin. It will be less than half the rail-road co-ordinated rate from Melbourne to Darwin. The use of the 'Darwin Trader', 1 am, hoping, will provide both an expedited service and a more efficient service for the residents of Darwin and of the Northern Territory. It will provide also a service which, I believe, will be at a more than competitive rate with other alternative forms of transport.

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