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Tuesday, 16 March 1965

Senator PALTRIDGE - The question is one which obviously requires some consideration by the Minister himself if adequate answers are to be given to all the points raised by the honorable senator. I shall certainly take an early opportunity to refer the question to him. It may, however, be of some use if, by way of an interim answer, I point out that Australian owned tankers operating on the coast have a statutory right to preference in loadings for carriage around the coast, as against non-Australian owned tankers. This has been laid down in the Navigation Act for many years and is the position today. The honorable senator referred to tankers owned by the Miller organisation. It is not within the power of the Commonwealth Minister to dictate which Australian owned ships shall receive cargoes; his power is merely to ensure that Australian owned ships shall receive priority of loadings over nonAustralian owned ships. From my reading of the Press reports - I have not seen any communication from Mr. Miller - Mr. Miller's present difficulty arises from the fact that at the moment there are more Australian owned ships on the coast than was the case when he started his venture by buying ships and employing them on the coast. I understand that the number will increase from this time on. In other words, Mr. Miller is now meeting with competition from other Australian owned vessels.

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