Parliamentary record : Part I debates (16 February 1989)
Debates for 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990
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Northern Territory Legislative Assembly
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Thursday 16 February 1989 port. It is only through the high levels of cargo generated by a large number of shipping movements that a port can achieve its ultimate performance and efficiency. Without these high levels of shipping and freight, port and stevedoring charges remain relatively high and, consequently, unattractive to potential port users. Herein lies the dilemma associated with attempts to promote the Port of Darwin amongst overseas and Australian shipping lines. As appealing as our geographic location is, it is simply not enough in itself to attract sufficiently high levels of shipping. The $35m upgrade of port facilities which has taken place since self-government has ensured the quality of infrastructure to make Darwin a technically efficient port. But this is just the start. Having the necessary infrastructure is one thing; operating - it efficiently and effectively is another. There is still a great deal of hard work to be done on selling the Port of Darwin to shipping interests and their-customers. Undoubtedly, one of the strongest selling points for the port will be the-eventual construction of an Alice Springs to Darwin railway line but much can be done at various levels on our waterfront itself which will provide important building blocks in making Darwin Australia's front door for maritime trade with South-east Asia. I am happy to say that there have been marked improvements in efficiency, manning levels, work practices and port and stevedoring charges in recent years. These improvements bear testimony to the efforts of groups, individuals and firms involved in the port at all levels. Bulk cargo handling efficiency is an area which has seen dramatic improvements in the past 3 years. For example, the discharge of sulphur, which had taken up to 12 days previously, is now completed in 6. The clinker vessel, Shinwa Mar which, in June 1985, took 12 days to discharge, was discharged in 9 days in November 1988. Overall, the discharge rate for bulk clinker has improved by some 33% during the past year. Lead concentrate, which was loaded at an average of 112 t per hour in November 1986, was being unloaded at 209 t per hour, or nearly twice the rate, in the same period last year. The handling times for containers and break-bulk cargo have also improved in line with this general upturn. The off-loading of a 120-box container vessel can now be completed at an average of 21 boxes per hour, which is amongst the best rates in Australia. Pallets of frozen meat, which were being loaded at 22 t per hour in September and November 1986, were being loaded at the rate of 29 t per hour last year. There are a number of reasons for the improvements in handling times. One of the most notable is, of course, that 2 additional stevedoring firms began work in the port last year, following a long period during which there had only been 1 firm. - In short, for the first time in many years, port users were provided with competitive prices for all stevedoring. However, I believe that these improved handling times go much deeper than just a new spirit of commercial competition on the waterfront. They say a great deal about the attitude of the people at the workface. Traditionally, waterside workers have been characterised as idle types, working to the book and only too willing to bung on a strike. The current approach of Darwin's waterside workers certainly does not fit this stereotype. In fact, I am pleased to say that the refreshingly constructive and professional attitude of Darwin's waterside workers is now used as a positive selling point for the Port of Darwin. Since self-government, there has been a steady decrease in the number of man-hours lost by operational employees of stevedoring companies in the Port of Darwin due to industrial action. The monthly average over the last 3 years 5585
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