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PSA erport does not tell the whole story - costs have not come down for the users of the waterfront



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MEDIA RELEASE

FEDERAL MEMBER FOR GILMORE

SHADOW MINISTER FOR SHIPPING AND WATERFRONT REFORM

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

PSA REPORT DOES NO T TELL THE WHOLE STORY - COSTS HAVE NOT COME DOW N FO R TH E USERS OF TH E W ATERFRONT

The report by David Cousins for the Prices Surveillance Authority on cargo handling costs only tells part of the story of the Government's waterfront reform program - and as a result produces a distorted picture that only reflects a part of the situation and sideĀ­ steps the criteria of international comparisons.

While crane rates have been improved, as demonstrated by the WIRA performance indicators for September 1992, they are only at the lower ends of the international range, and while the costs for stevedoring have been reduced for shipping lines, they have not been reduced for the real users of the waterfront - exporters and importers.

The PSA itself observed recently that gains from waterfront reform are not getting through to the users. One of the reasons for this is that the costs of the redundancies that were dished out as a bribe to the wharfies for the reforms are not paid for by the stevedores (the direct employers) but by the shipping lines and then charged on to users in shipping rates.

Those costs were enormous, averaging $100,000 per wharfie on top of regular entitlements. The Australian taxpayer footed a huge bill, and the shipping lines picked up a tab (and are still picking it up) of $165 million.

By off-loading the costs of reform in this way, the stevedores have been able to give seeming savings to their clients, the shipping lines (who are also, in several cases, their owners).

Once again the shippers are being told in the Cousins report that "the gains to shippers from reduced stevedoring charges would be modest", and that they can look to improved productivity and reduced turnaround times and improved use of ship capacity for their benefits. Until those benefits are translated into reduced costs, the achievements of the Government's reform program can only be regarded as partial at best.

Australian shippers have had enough of these "modest" benefits. While Australia is being so modest, the rest of the world is getting further and further ahead, and Australian competitiveness in world markets more and more compromised.

Ends........WR71/92 24-11-92

Contact: John Wallis A/H 06 277 4213

COMMONWEALTH PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY MICAH