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Friday, 22 May 1970

Mr SINCLAIR (NEW ENGLAND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister Assisting the Minister for Trade and Industry) - About 6 months ago I took the opportunity to visit Albany to see what developments were taking place. As on my visit to Portland, I was tremendously impressed with the potential of the region as a wool selling centre. It is true that as a result of the introduction of container vessels there has been a general change towards the centralisation of cargo handling. This has meant that instead of being handled for container consignment through the outports, cargoes are being progressively centralised in the 3 major container ports of Fremantle, Melbourne and Sydney. As far as cargo handling and future projects at Albany are concerned, there have been discussions between the West Australian Government, people in the port of Albany, wool growers in the area, and me. There are 2 substantial objectives which we seek to attain. The first, and I think the more significant, is to ensure that growers of wool, and consequently, those who arc interested in the selling of wool, should have the cost of freight on their wool contained if possible, and that they should have access to a shipping frequency which, in the case of the port of Albany, has not previously been available. In the past no undertaking has been given by the Conference to provide for the clearance of wool from wool auctions within the prompt day. Although this has taken place in some wool selling seasons it has not always been so.

As the honourable member will know, as a result of the recent discussions between the Australia-London tonnage conference and the shipping consortia agreement has been reached that the cost of transporting wool from the outports to the main ports will be borne by the shipping companies. Two things are of significance to the port of Albany. The first is that those who sell wool in the area may be confident that they will be able to have their wool transported from that wool selling centre at the same freight rates as apply to any other main selling centre in Australia. This is of great significance. I am sure that it will inspire confidence at that centre, as well as at Portland.

The second thing is that the shipowners will be encouraged to move wool direct from Albany, and, I hope also from Portland when the circumstances justify it, to overseas ports when sufficient wool is available. This will mean for Albany, when the Scandinavian line ships are introduced in 1972 and the roll-on roll-off ships come into service, that possibly some of these vessels will carry wool shipments direct from that port. As a result of the discussions between the Western Australian Government and the Commonwealth Government the potential for the growth of Albany, Portland and other outports will be ensured and we will be able to achieve improved economies from the very frequent and regular services that the container corsortia are introducing.

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