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A stevedoring levy for all of us to pay for one of us.



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MEDIA RELEASE

 

SHADOW MINISTER FOR TRANSPORT

 

LINDSAY TANNER MP

FEDERAL MEMBER FOR MELBOURNE

 

A Stevedoring Levy for All of Us to Pay for One of Us

 

The stevedoring levy legislation passed by the Senate today places an a totally unjustified, unfair and anti-competitive burden on South Australia, Tasmania and a number of isolated communities who depend on shipping services, the Shadow Minister for Transport, Mr Lindsay Tanner, said today.

 

‘The Opposition brought forward amendments to exempt all domestic cargo from the levy. These were not supported by the Democrats or the Government. Their failure to support these amendments means that there is no statutory protection from this levy for the Bass Strait trade in particular and domestic sea freight in general.

 

“The Government asked the Senate to trust it to make the necessary exemptions by way of regulation. Given the Government has constantly misled the Parliament and the Australian people about its role in the sorry saga that has developed on Australia’s waterfront, no one can accept “trust us” from this Government in relation to maritime policy.

 

“Labor also moved amendments to ensure that only those companies who wished to access funding for redundancies under the scheme should pay the levy Again, these amendments were not supported by the Government or the Australian Democrats.

 

“It seems particularly strange that a Government that has said so much about increasing competition on the Australian waterfront would want to engineer a situation where companies have to pay for the redundancies of their competitors. This measure will also surely act as a disincentive for new companies to enter the Australian stevedoring industry which is so needed to break the stranglehold that the two existing companies have on the industry.

 

“Labor believes it is fundamentally wrong that Australia’s most productive terminal operator, Sealand, should have to pay for Chris Corrigan’s mismanagement. It will be up to South Australian Liberal Senators and the Leader of the Australian Democrats, Senator Meg Lees, and her deputy, Senator Natasha Stott-Despoja, both who represent South Australia, to explain to South Australians why they have not acted to prevent a tax on shipping through South Australia which will bring no benefit to South Australia.

 

‘This is particularly strange given what their colleagues Senators Woodley and Murray said in their Legislation Committee Report. They said:

 

‘It is inequitable for stevedores who were not party to the unfortunate and unnecessary circumstances surrounding the Patrick’s, to be made to pay a levy to fund the consequences of that dispute.’

 

“The Government has now got its legislation. It is going to place a tax on all sea cargo, domestic and otherwise, on all stevedores, not just the ones who want to restructure their workforce, so that money can be provided to Chris Corrigan.

 

“The reason why they have done this is also clear: It is to ensure that Peter Reith and the Prime Minister, do not have to face the Federal Court on conspiracy charges, charges which it is patently obvious that they cannot answer."

 

26 June 1998

 

For further information contact Lindsay Tanner on (03) 9347 5000 or Warren Mundy on 0416 045987

 

 

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