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Thursday, 2 December 1965

Mr McMAHON - The answer to the first part of the question is that the container service is not peculiarly an Australian invention. It has been introduced on a large scale on the west coast of the United States. The service works effectively in the west coast system and in the Honolulu system and has led to a substantial reduction in costs and a large increase in the pay of longshoremen. As to the second part of the question, I do not think the use of containers and what is called off-wharf marshalling of cargoes will lead to a reduction of 80 per cent, in the work force on the Australian waterfront. I regard that figure as a gross exaggeration and one that could not be sustained by logical argument. As to the third part of the question, I have made it clear that the Government has agreed to an all-in conference on waterfront problems. One of those problems relates to the possible impact of automation and off-wharf loading on waterside labour. Two matters arise which have been placed on the agenda at the all-in conference. The first is consideration of a retirement pensions scheme. The second is what is termed redundancy, which includes consideration of a mechanisation fund. This will be receiving active consideration by the all-in conference on which the Government is represented.

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