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Thursday, 5 March 1970

Mr SINCLAIR (New England) (Minister for Shipping and Transport) - by leave - On 26th November 1968 the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) informed the House of the Government's decision to enter overseas shipping through the operation in its own right of Australian crewed vessels. As a result of negotiations initiated by my colleague, the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen), the Australian National Line is now operating a vessel in the European trade and arrangements have been made for participation in the trade to the east coast of North America. In addition the Line is operating another vessel in the Eastern Searoad Service to Japan. As a logical development of this involvement in overseas shipping the Government has now approved the Australian National Line entering a new shipping service between Australia and the west coast of North America.

The Australian National Line will join with Trans-Austral Shipping Pty Ltd, an Australian subsidiary of the Swedish shipping company Trans-Atlantic, and Elder Smith and Co. Ltd, in a new Australian company to own the vessel. Final details of the new company are currently being negotiated but the vessel will be operated by the Australian National Line under the Australian flag with an Australian crew. In this way the Australian National Line can gain experience in association with a shipowner already in the trade and an opportunity is afforded to another Australian interest to enter overseas shipping.

The vessel will be an entirely new type of vehicle deck ship which can operate at ordinary wharves and does not require special facilities for stern loading. It will offer a joint service in conjunction with two other ships of the same type. These ships will be owned by Trans-Atlantic and Associated Container Transportation (Australia) Ltd of Great Britain. The new operation will be called the Pacific Australia Direct Service and will be a development from the present service offered by Trans-Atlantic under that name.

Operation of a vessel in the west coast trade follows from the arrangements already made for the Line to enter the east coast North America trade in its joint venture with ACTA lines. The new vessel will be much bigger than the largest roll-on roll-off vessel now operated by the Australian National Line. It will incorporate a newly developed quarter ramp loading system which does away with the need for special wharves. I am sure that members of this House will agree that the operation of this vessel will provide the Australian National Line with valuable experience of yet another advanced type of ship in another important overseas trade.

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