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
Northern Territory Legislative Assembly
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Thursday 16 February 1989 people in business and generating more jobs through increased transit and storage services. Mr Speaker, it is pleasing to see a positive story coming out of the Port of Darwin, although it is not before time. People have been working very hard for some time to improve the situation there. Let us hope that, from now on, we do not hear any more unnecessary and emotive nonsense which will serve only to und~rmine the very effective work continuing in the minister's office, the Port Authority and among all the participants - the unions, employers, staff and consignees - to achieve a common objective. Mr SETTER (Jingili): Mr Speaker, I was very pleased to hear the minister's statement about improvements in the efficiency of the Port of Darwin and a resultant lowering of costs. As the minister rightly pointed out, this has been achieved through the very good work of the Port of Darwin Efficiency Task Force which was established a year or so ago. That, coupled with the establishment of an additional 2 stevedoring companies, has led to a considerable improvement in efficiency. I can recall that, when I came to Darwin, the port had a terrible reputation. It is only in the last year or 2 that things have improved and now it looks as though we have finally turned the corner. In order to show how far back the port's bad reputation goes, let me quote from a book entitled 'The Shadow's Edge' by. Dr Alan Powell of the Northern Territory University. I will quote from page 51, where Dr Powell is himself quoting a military reviewer: One cannot describe Darwin as anything but a boil on the Australian defence system, a boil which grew festered and irritated until it finally burst with the air-raids of 19 February 1942_ and got rid of much of the badness which had been a source of annoyance to those officers of all services who had participated in the endeavour to build the port into an efficient link in our chain of defences. That was the situation back in 1942, and it has been most pleasing to hear in the minister's statement today that efficiencies have improved quite dramatically in recent times. Mr Speaker, this government's policy has been to develop the Port of Darwin as the main port of entry into Australia for trade with Asia and South-east Asia. I think we have to be realistic about this. It is all very well to be parochial and talk about how proud we are to be Territorians and how we want to develop our business and our export and income trade with South-east Asia. However, the reality is that business in the Northern Territory - and I mean it no disrespect whatsoever - is quite small in that scenario. South-east Asia is full of huge enterprises and the amount of business we can do in terms of exporting locally-manufactured produce or importing goods for local consumption is very small indeed, relatively speaking. However, when we start to talk about using Darwin as the northern entry point for a land bridge to the south, hopefully in the form of a railway, we are looking at big business in terms of both exports and imports. There is an enormous amount of trade between Asia and Australia. At present, most goods are carried by sea from Asia all the way down our coasts to the southern ports of Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth. As the member for Nightcliff pointed out, there can be delays of many weeks as cargoes are unloaded, moved across the wharf, and left on the hard stand in containers 5595
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