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Thursday, 2 September 1993
Page: 863

Senator BURNS —My question is directed to the Minister for Transport and Communications. I refer to the Minister's announcement last April concerning the commencement of a review of legislation regulating Australia's international shipping service. Can the minister advise of progress being made in that review, and in particular the level of interest generated in the shipping community?

Senator COLLINS —The review of part X of the Trade Practices Act is a very important aspect of the government's maritime reform agenda, which is aimed at continuing to improve Australia's international competitiveness. It is of vital concern to both the shipping industry and Australian shippers, as the trade papers testify.

  I might add on the question of trade papers that it was of some interest to me to see launched in Australia for the first time on Monday the publication Lloyd's List. Lloyd's List is the oldest continuing English speaking newspaper in the world. It was launched in 1734 in Lloyd's coffee house in London.

Senator Boswell —That's very interesting.

Senator COLLINS —Indeed, and I know that it is on Senator Boswell's reading list. It is of some note to see that this very old English language newspaper released its first Australian publication on Monday and contained an editorial on the part X review.

  The review is being conducted by a three-member panel compromising the chairman, Mr Pat Brazil, Professor Ted Kolsen and Captain John Evans. These people were selected because of their complementary skills and top level expertise in the areas of law, transport economics and shipping management, but not as representatives of any particular sectional interests. Their task is to conduct a comprehensive and independent assessment of the complex issues arising from the review's wide-ranging terms of reference. These include examining the scope and justification of exemptions currently available under part X to shipping conferences and the appropriate degree of regulation of Australia's inward liner cargo services.

  I recently met with the members of the panel to mark the midpoint in their review. I am pleased to advise the Senate that the review is making very good progress. This has been confirmed to me by both shipping and shipper interests.

  The panel has been successful in encouraging participation in the review process by exporters, importers, conference and non-conference shipping companies, maritime unions, stevedores, regulatory bodies and government departments. An issues paper was published in late May to assist interested parties in making submissions. In response, over 40 written submissions have been received. The panel members are now conducting interviews with the people who have put in written submissions.

  Australia is not the only country to have legislation similar to that in part X and an appreciation of overseas experience also is an important part of the review. I have encouraged the review panel not to compromise the thoroughness of its report by feeling obliged to strictly comply with the six months time frame originally envisaged for the review. Whilst this is likely to put back slightly the 31 October reporting date to later this year, it reflects the degree of participation there has been in the review by the shipping community and its vital interest in its outcome. I urge anyone with an interest in Australia's international shipping services to make his views known as soon as possible to the review secretariat, if he has not already done so.