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Queensland deprived of shipping by Queensland Premier



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PRESS RELEASE : 137

Leader of the Opposition

&>QUEENSLAND DEPRIVED OF SHIPPING BY QUEENSLAND PREMIERThe Queensland Premier is,still stalling on the proposal to permit the Australian National Line to carry cargo between Queensland ports. The victims of his stubbornness are the people who live in the ports and their hinterlands. For five years Mr. Bjelke- Petersen has dragged the chain.One of the earliest actions I took as Prime Minister was to write to the Premier - on 115 December 197 2, ten days after I was sworn in - seeking his agreement to allow ANL to operate a general cargo service within the State. He had not replied by 5 June 1974 when I wrote to him again. He never responded. . 'In May and June 1976, the present Minister for Transport, Mr. Nixon, wrote to his Queensland counterpart. ■On 24 November 1976, the Queensland Government offered to permit the ANL to undertake a limited service within the State.Mr. Nixon said on 15 February this year that the Queensland offer limited the ANL's capacity to provide "more economic services and to deprive industry and consumers in Queensland of the benefits of competition".On the 28 April, Mr. Nixon announced that the Queensland 'Government had at last agreed to allow the ANL unrestricted access to the intra-State trade in competition with the Queensland . .Railways.Last Tuesday I asked Mr. Nixon; "what is holding up the enabling legislation which will greatly benefit the economy of Queensland ports and their hinterlands and the economics of the ANL itself"?Mr. Nixon replied -that the reason for the delay was that the Australian Government had "not yet had a response from Queensland".So a clear benefit to Queensland is being denied by the obstruction and obstinacy of the Queensland Premier.To ensure that the new service is constitutionally valid, the Australian Government has asked the Queensland Premier to agree to a temporary reference of power. There is nothing centralist about this; it is merely a temporary and technical matter to make the agreement watertight. For -example, the Queensland Government referred a power to allow TAA to operate within the State - a clear benefit to Queensland.While Mr. Bjelke-Petersen denies this benefit to Queensland, ANL ships are sailing from Queensland ports half empty. For example, in August 1976, the 1 Melbourne Trader1 with a capacity of 332 units, sailed from Townsville carrying 143 units and with 189 spare units.The process of delay and obstruction stretching over five years continues.P arliam en t H o u s e . Canberra, A C T. 2600 . TOWNSVILLE 16 September 1977