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Despite reform claims, for some the waterfront gets worse



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JOHN SHARP MEDIA RELEASE

FEDERAL MEMBER FOR GILMORE

SHADOW MINISTER FOR SHIPPING AND WATERFRONT REFORM

PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA: Tel 06 277 4213, Fax 06 2 7 7 2124

DESPITE REFORM CLAIMS. FOR SOME THE WATERFRONT GETS WORSE

Despite the claims made by the Minister for Shipping and Aviation Support, Senator Collins, for the success of the Government's waterfront reform program, the costs of the waterfront have simply continued to increase for several users.

Exporters in some industries have provided the Coalition with detailed accounts which prove that their expenses have actually gone up because of increases in port charges.

In one case, the property costs charged by the port authority have increased from $1.85 per tonne in 1990/91 to $3.41 for 1991/92, with stevedoring quotations increasing from $10.58 per tonne to $11.00 per tonne. On top of that, the manhour levies have increased from $1.00 per tonne to $1.21 per tonne and a new charge for navigation services of $0.89 per tonne has been applied. While wharfage has been reduced from $4.43 per

tonne to $4.35 per tonne, the net result is an increase in charges of $3.00 per tonne.

In another port, the same industry has seen the charges increased by close to one third from 1090/91 to 1991/92 - and stevedoring charges quoted have increased in that port from $8.50 per tonne in 1990/91 to $9.00 per tonne in 1991/92.

It is clear from these cases that the benefits of the reforms are not yet apparent to port users.

A central problem is that, while stevedoring charges to users have not necessarily come down (and some stevedoring operators have explained that because of the costs of restructuring and the costs of redundancies, it will be a long time before they do), port charges have in many cases increased significantly, adversely compensating for whatever

gains might be made in stevedoring.

It is clear that action needs to be taken to ensure that the port authorities are also fully involved in the reform process - and that in their case, as well as in the case of the stevedores, the savings are passed on to the users.

The Federal Government cannot afford to stand aside from the issue of port authority reform - despite the inclination of the Minister to pass it off as a State problem. The central issue in waterfront reform across the board is the reduction of costs and the improvement of services to the users of the port - exporters and importers - in order to make our exports more competitive and our inputs cheaper.

Ends.......... WR111/91 17-12-91

Contact: John Wallis A/H 06 295 6796