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Wednesday, 10 October 1956

Mr McEWEN (MURRAY, VICTORIA) (Minister for Trade) - The Department of Trade has no status in respect of coastal shipping freight rates. With respect to overseas freight rates, the relationship between the people who pay the freight charges - the shippers, as they are known in the jargon of the trade - and the shipowners, is recognized in statute law. Anorganization known as the Australian Overseas Transport Association exists to arrange the relationship on freight matters and to stand between the shippers and the shipowners. That association has already been in contact with the shipowners, and arrangements have been made for representatives of. the organization and of the shipper interests to go to London to argue their views with the shipowners there. I think it is well known to the House and to the country that the Government is very much concerned to ensure that no additional burdens on our export trade shall arise from any cause, including higher freight rates, and that last year the Government, without specific authority, but nevertheless acting in the interests of Australia, successfully intervened and induced the shipowners to impose freight rates substantially lower than those they had intended to impose. The Government will certainly watch events in the present instance very carefully, and will be prepared to give the benefit of its advice, and, within the limits of its status and authority, of its aid to the Australian exporting interests.

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