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Wednesday, 4 August 1954

Mr HOLT (HIGGINS, VICTORIA) (Minister for Immigration) - Various elements affect the situation at Townsville and Mount Isa and I assure the honorable member that the Government is closely examining the problems that have developed there. Some of these problems are common to all northern Queensland ports, where there is heavy seasonal traffic in sugar and meat. The shipowners themselves have established certain priorities for cargoes and, generally speaking, they give a high priority to sugar and meat and lower priorities to general cargoes, including consignments from Mr Isa, which appear at the bottom of the priority list. The Government has initiated discussions with the shipowners in relation to the size of the labour quota at the port of Townsville. In fact, the registered port strength is at present above the- quota level prescribed for the port, and the shipowners have indicated their, reluctance to increase it. If the quota is increased as a result of the present discussions, additional labour will he made available specifically for Mr Isa products. At the moment, I understand that about four pangs have been allocated to shipping in tire port. Wo are- trying to improve on that situation.

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