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Inching ahead while the world streaks by



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JOHN SHARP MEDIA RELEASE

44 -

FEDERAL MEMBER FOR GILMORE

SHADOW MINISTER FOR SHIPPING AND WATERFRONT REFORM

PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA: Tel 0 6 2 7 7 4213, Fax 0 6 2 7 7 2 1 2 4

INCHING AHEAD WHILE THE WORLD STREAKS BY

Senator Collins represented very modest crane rate improvements on the Australian waterfront as "a very good news story for Australia", when using a Dorothy Dix question during Question Time in the Senate yesterday to announce the release of the Waterfront Industry Reform Authority's Performance Indicators for the March Quarter 1992.

Just why Senator Collins would think that of the news that Australia's crane rate performances at our best performing ports are now equal to the lowest performing port performances of our trading partners defies imagination. Yet that is just what he has done.

He has selected the lowest performances in each trade as examples of Australia's competitive success - ignoring the fact that other ports in the trades are 25% to 35% better than our best performances of 18 - 20 TEUs per hour. Or that some of our ports are actually performing worse than they were in the December quarter on some trades!

The fact is that Australian port performance is still well below the international standards with which our exporters have to compete if they are to hold their own in the international marketplace. To make matters worse, what improved productivity there has

been has come at such a high price that port users are receiving no benefits from them.

The wharfies have been given the world's most extravagant redundancy packages (at an average of $100,000 per wharfie, on top of already extraordinarily generous regular retirement entitlements) and productivity bonuses in some enterprises that trigger in at levels that are at the bottom rung of international performance. It is not surprising that

stevedore operators have had to explain that the restructuring costs will preclude major cost benefits to end users for some time.

Senator Collins is very sensitive to criticism. He would be better advised to set his targets higher - at best international practice - and deliver genuine reform with cost benefits to the end users. Until then, the very purpose of reform in the first place - reduced costs to importers and exporters, as well as improved service - will not be

satisfied.

Merely better than we were is not cause for celebration - especially when the base was the worst waterfront in the developed world.

Ends.........WR39/92 29-5-92 COMMONWEALTH

PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY MICAH

Contact: John Wallis A/H 06 295 6796