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Friday, 30 October 1970

Mr Grassby (RIVERINA, NEW SOUTH WALES) asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:

(1)   Have shipping costs from Sydney to Darwin doubled in the past month.

(2)   If so, is this due to the introduction of container vessels.

(3)   Is it a fact that conventional ships previously carried cargo at half the cost of container ships.

(4)   If so, will he inquire into this undesirable development in shipping costs.

Mr Sinclair - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   Shipping costs have not doubled. The seafreight representing the gross return to the ship, in the case of less than container loads, has increased by 12i per cent. The depot-to-depot rate embodies charges, at cost, payable to wharf authorities and for off-wharf transport and depot ser-vices.

(2)   No. A substantia] increase, well in excess of present container rates, would have been necessary in order to overcome the consistent and heavy annual losses incurred if conventional tonnage had remained in the trade. Port authority charges on container cargoes have markedly contributed to the present level of costs.

(3)   No.

(4)   Officers of both the Australian National Line and my Department have conducted a close investigation into total distribution costs arising from the shipping service preliminary to my making a further visit to Darwin.

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