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Thursday, 22 April 1971

Senator COTTON (NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Civil Aviation) - I am quickly going through the various notes on shipping which have been given lo me by the responsible Minister. I shall do what 1 can to assist the honourable senator with some information which I have here. To the extent that that information needs to be added to I shall ask the Minister to do that for me. One or two comments I have might assist in this matter because we all have a vital interest in it. In late 1970 the Chamber of Commerce Export Council proposed a joint study of the overseas shipping policy between exporter groups and the Department, particularly the pros and cons of the conference system, Government support thereof and research facilities to back up shipper bodies in negotiations. The Department of Shipping and Transport has joined with other interested organisations, boards, export groups, manufacturers and growers, and in confidence there is a free exchange of views in that joint study group.

The initial meeting was held in February and a most encouraging response was received from the groups involved. Subgroups were established to pursue the study in depth and there is some prospect of a joint report coming out within a few months. Equally the Government is concerned to represent the position before the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in shipping aspects. Australian officials are participating in exploratory consultations with the OECD SecretaryGeneral at the present time. I do not think it would be sensible for me to go beyond that because I might well, out of my own enthusiasm for something to be done about this, say something which I am unable to back up with facts. I think the honourable senator will agree that T should properly refer the balance of his comments to the responsible Minister.

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