Territory Stories

Parliamentary record : Part I debates (16 February 1989)



Parliamentary record : Part I debates (16 February 1989)


Debates for 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Northern Territory Legislative Assembly

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Thursday 16 February 1989 The turnaround in the performance of the port during the last few years, particularly the last 2-year period, has been quite amazing. Quite rightly, the minister credits this to changes in attitude on the part of the unions and the stevedoring companies, which have undoubtedly played a major role, together with the work of the Darwin Port Authority itself. I would like to point out also that management attitudes flow down from the top level. I believe that the minister himself has displayed considerable sensitivity to the needs of the'port and his refreshing and practical approach is bringing results. In 1988, I had an opportunity to visit the port of Felixstowe in East Anglia, which is the fastest growing container port in the world. I asked its directors and administrators what was the key to their success. Their response was that they set goals in consultation with management, unions, workers, shippers and forwarders, and then involved everyone in marketing these goals. Whilst the primary goal of any port is profitability, in the very early years following capital restructuring and infrastructure, there is a secondary goal which is very important, the goal of continued expansion. That becomes a goal as a matter of necessity because, without a larger throughput, the amortisation of the capital items and the cost of loan servicing per tonne through the port is too high a recovery item for the port to compete in the marketplace. In the formative stage, and that is the stage the Port of Darwin is now in, the main goal should be the expansion of cargo throughput - in 'other words, visitations. In the past, the Port of Darwin has had a very poor track record with international shipping and shippers which, unfortunately, has left its legacy. People are not yet fully aware that the situation has changed and, although some positive developments have occurred in relation to international shipping activity, I do not believe that we have yet convinced a majority of shippers that the situation has changed. Although this example comes from outside the South-east Asian region, which is our usual sphere of operations, my brother-in-law works for the ACL group in the United Kingdom, one of the world's largest container shipping companies, which has branch operations throughout Europe and most of the world. When I speak to him in an effort to promote the shipping of cargoes into this area, I run into the problem of attitudes in his company which relate to experiences with the operations of the Port of Darwin many years ago. Obviously, such attitudes must be changed, and it is heartening that today the minister is not only reflecting that view but providing tangible evidence to back it up. I note the minister's comments on marketing. I know that we are marketing aggressively in the South-east Asian region and I understand the marketing concept which the minister is using, but I would like to go a little further. I suggest to him that, in order to involve international shippers more fully and make them more aware of the dramatic turnaround at our port, we should be pushing very hard to emphasise the points made in today's statement. Those pOints relate particularly to changes in our port infrastructure, competitiveness between stevedoring companies, improved turnaround rates, the land-bridge concept, delays in southern ports, our proximity to the South-east Asian region, and the potential to reduce transportation times by eliminating the need to travel by sea around the coast in order to reach southern markets. I believe that we should adopt the marketing strategy used by the management at Felixstowe. It should be promoted, not just by the Darwin Port Authority management, but by all the parties with a stake in the future of the port, thus providing a united front. This may sound like a radical idea to some honourable members, even some on this side of the House, but I believe 5590

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