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Waterfront reform and the NFF initiative: key quotes. Business endorses move

Business has overwhelmingly endorsed the move by the National Farmers' Federation move to establish a new stevedoring operation.

Attached are quotes from industry and business groups across the country which have supported the action of the NFF.

For further information contact:

Ian Hanke, 0419 484 095.


"Competition is an important catalyst in promoting improved performance and new entrants often provide a useful impetus for change. In this regard the initiative foreshadowed by the National Farmers' Federation is welcomed." David Buckingham, Executive Director, Business Council of Australia, 28/1/98

"A more competitive waterfront in terms of price and reliability, particularly in the handling of containers and break bulk cargo, will facilitate Australia's international trading efforts in this time of challenge in our important Asian markets." Llew Russell, CEO, Liner shipping Services, media release, 28/1/98

"ACCI welcomes move to inject greater competition into the waterfront through the establishment of a new company to provide stevedoring services to the Australian waterfront. The move is an important step in helping achieve the changes required to improve the competitiveness of the waterfront needed by business." Mark Paterson, CEO, ACCI, media release, 28/1/98

"Australia's largest multi- industry employer group has welcomed moves to stimulate more competition on the waterfront, and encourages new competitors to sue the Port of Melbourne." "There can be no argument for making the waterfront and the Maritime Union of Australia a special case which is exempt from increased competition." David Edwards, CEO, VECCI, media release, 28/1/98

"It's only John Coombs who is speaking of mayhem, of strike action, of some perceived provocation when he himself says, when he thinks about it, that competition may not be all that bad a thing - but he doesn't say it all that loudly." Hon Tim Fischer MP, Deputy Prime Minister, doorstop transcript, 28/1/98

"I congratulate their initiative because ultimately, the waterfront like every other industry should provide a choice of services." ..."This is not about non- union labour, it is about competition which will provide for the port user the best and most efficient service." Hon Eric Charlton MP, W.A. Transport Minister, media release, 28/1/98

"Labor acknowledges that after a process of substantial reform in both shipping and the waterfront, further productivity improvement has not been as readily forthcoming as hoped." Lindsay Tanner MP, Australian Waterfront Speech, 12 March 1997.

"Inefficiencies and cross- subsidies can easily be accommodated in a closed economy. In an open, international economy they threaten the viabilities of businesses which must compete with foreign companies which do not carry equivalent burdens." Lindsay Tanner MP, "Populism and Rationalism", May, 1997.

"The waterfront is one of the most glaring examples of workplace inefficiency in Australia. This is more than an anomaly. It is deadweight on other areas of industry and must be removed." Editorial, Sydney Morning Herald, 5 Jan. 1998

"As part of its 'enough is enough' approach, PO has refused from January 1 to deduct union dues from salaries." Sydney Morning Herald, 5 Jan. 1998.

"It's a farmer backed exercise to improve the efficiency on the waterfront. We think that we can reduce the cost of waterfront operations significantly and run a commercial enterprise." Don McGauchie, NFF, on ABC 7:30 Report, 27/1/98

"We want to go into business. So that's what we want to do. We're business people. We operate in a very tough field in agriculture. We're the most efficient farmers in the world. We just want our waterfront to be as efficient as we are and we think the best way to do that is to do it ourselves." Don McGauchie, NFF, on ABC 7:30 Report, 27/1/98

"If they do it legally and if they're properly trained, what's wrong with it?" Coombs: "Well nothing, as I said, nothing at all excepting that it's not intended in a genuine attempt by the National Farmers' Federation ..." John Coombs, MUA, on ABC 7:30 Report, 27/1/98

"Labor will work constructively with waterfront users, stevedoring companies, unions and port authorities to improve waterfront productivity by encouraging greater competition through new stevedoring operations and performance requirements in terminal leases..." Resolution passed by Hobart Labor Party Conference, January, 1998.

"As far as the farmers are concerned, they are saying well, they reckon they can do a better job, that we can have a more efficient waterfront. They are the most efficient farmers in the world, and they would like Australia's gateway to the world - the waterfront - to be much more efficient. So I say: Good on them and about time.

"Kerry let me deny absolutely and categorically that we had any knowledge of what went on in Dubai or that we provided any funds for it. I mean John Coombs is scraping the barrel in trying to make that assertion." Don McGauchie, NFF on ABC 7:30 Report, 27/1/98

"The relationship between my union and the Australian Wheat Board is outstanding, and this is all put in jeopardy because of Reith's diabolical plan to create this mayhem on the Australian waterfront, and I don't believe McGauchie's statement last night on national television that he has the support of national farmers." John Coombs,MUA, on ABC AM, 28/1/98

"...can I just start by saying John coombs himself last night said that there was nothing wrong with genuine competition on the waterfront and the Labor Party at their conference last week publicly supported the idea of more competition on the waterfront..." Hon Peter Reith MP, Minister for Workplace Relations and Small Businesson ABC AM, 28/1/98