Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 25 May 1989
Page: 2700

Senator CHAPMAN —My question to the Minister representing the Minister for Industrial Relations relates to the recent loss by Australian wheat growers of a $2m wheat sale to New Zealand to United States traders, an earlier lost New Zealand sale to Turkish traders and the loss by CSR Ltd of a gypsum sale to New Zealand. Is the Minister aware that these lost sales are a direct result of both additional costs and shipping delays caused by the trans-Tasman freight agreement between Australian and New Zealand maritime unions, allowing only Australian and New Zealand crews to operate across the Tasman, and which now threatens the $24m wheat trade with New Zealand? Is the Minister further aware that, despite the fact that no local shipping was available in these recent examples, the Australian Council of Trade Unions delayed so long in agreeing to waive the agreement, as sought by the Australian Wheat Board, that the sales were lost to the United States and Turkey? When will the Government act to stop this industrial blackmail which keeps freight costs to New Zealand artificially high by excluding competitive shipping, while at the same time it is exposing Australian wheat growers to greater competition? How long can the Government turn a blind eye to this cosy union deal which threatens significant export income at a time when the Government is presiding over a disastrous balance of payments performance?

Senator BUTTON —I am not familiar with the considerable array of detail the honourable senator gave in his question. I will try to obtain some advice from the Minister for Industrial Relations as quickly as possible and provide the honourable senator with an answer. I must say that I will also provide a more detailed answer on some of the assumptions in the honourable senator's question relating to the competition which exists in regard to the trans-Tasman route.