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Wednesday, 1 November 1967

Mr McEWEN (MURRAY, VICTORIA) (Minister for Trade and Industry) - 1 have not been informed that the shipowners are seeking a further freight rise. It is a fact that when the Suez Canal was closed the shipowners announced an impost of an additional 5% to cover their higher costs. It is also a fact that the Department of Trade and Industry, acting on my instructions, intervened and made representations, and, as a result, the impost was reduced to 3i%. To the extent that there was any valid scope for making representations to the shipowners against any higher freight, I would interest myself in this matter. However, the shippers - that is, the owners of the fruit and other products - have really cut across my opportunity to do this, an opportunity that existed in the earlier years of my administration. The shippers entered into an arrangement with the shipowners that freight costs would be determined as the outcome of what Fs really a cost-plus formula negotiated between the parties. Lt has operated during the last 10 years. I am afraid that the owners of the fruit and other products have largely surrendered their right to complain on this. I do not think that anyone could really expect a favourable reaction to a plea that, because an Australian industry is in trouble, the shipowners ought to carry its product at a loss.

However, within the contracts and the general arrangements, the shipowners have conceded the right of particular industries that can demonstrate they have real current problems to ask for some relief, and this has on occasions been given. I will look into the matter.

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