PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 8566


Photo of Keating, Paul

Keating, Paul

Period of Service: 20/12/1991 to 11/03/1996

More information about Keating, Paul on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 30/06/1992

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 8566

JUNE 1992
Pam ( Bcggs), Prcmicr Carmen Lawrence, ladies and gentlemen.
I am very plcascd to be here today. I have taken an interest in at least coming to
the port site of the various ports around Australia to get a better minds cyc vicw of
exactly what is happening, where developments arc, where they need to bc and
how to make our port system more cornpctitivc. And because wc have as a theme
of thc ' Onc Nation' package, linking the ports to the rail systcm and as Pam says
creating a rail highway around Australia, a standard-gauge highway and the big
link of course in that being from Adelaide to Melbourne and then improving the
track from Melbourne to Sydney through to Brisbane. That such a system does
provide opportunitics for Western Australia, for Frcmantle for a landbridging
operation across Australia through Melbourne and up through to Sydney or if you
like, as well through Broken down to Sydney.
We're still going through an important phase of the great post-war change In
Australia which began with the removal of exchange controls and the floating of
the exchange rate in 1983. The things which started to pccl back the layers of
management and protection of Australia so that the areas of comparative advantage
were able to excel themselves in this economy and where the focus was taken off
the areas of comparative disadvantage.
I've said over the last day or so in Western Australia and I'll say again, that in the
areas of comparativ. e advantage inmining and agriculture and services in
commodities where we clearly have an advantage, national economic policy has
favoured those areas so it's therefore not a surprise that the two states which have a
great preponderance of thesc industries Western Australia and Queensland arc
7. iul. 92 11: 23 No. 005 P. 01/ 03

now recovering more quickly and growing more strongly than some other regions
of Australia. But to really make it all work, we've got to break the major economic
barriers down and improve the efficiencies of the country and that includes from
the port side right through to plants and services and it mcans in this case, trying to
lift the valuc of the port/ rail interface, the quality of thc port, the efficiency and
productivity of ports and at the same time try and rejuvenate the rail systerns'so
we've got a better balance betwccn sea freight, rail and road so that there's a more
mature system out therc to servie the country as a trading entity.
I'vc said before and it's worth saying again, we are always criticised by the
-Coalition for the speed at which these changes were occurring and T make the
obvious point, if they were so urgent why did they leave them for forty years? My
colleague John Hewson who was advising John Howard, I don't remember him
running any rear guard actions along port productivity or Port reform or manning
levels or ship crewing levels or fixing up the run-down rail infrastructure of
Australia or repairing and putting competition into the road trade system with rail
or In the telecommunication system or any of these things. It has been left to thc
Labor Party to try and crack all these micro-economic nuts and we're In the
process of trying to crack this one now. And in relation to the rail freight system,
that is the national railway, we are trying to conclude ageenficids industrial
agreemcnt with the trade unions for the National Rail Freight Corporation so that
we can start to see the ' One Nton' money flow from next week. From the
beginning of the financial year in the course of the next couple of months, to start
to see the rail improvcments around Australia in a system which is fundamentally
going to be more competitive and where we can see the yield coming from those
efficiencies as we improve the infrastructure that wherc we have efficiency in
staffing across the rail system of Australia.
So that's why I think the. Fremantle landhridgc projpct-study Is Important. That is
the government of Western Australia has undertaken the study as to the prospect of
landbridging in thc new rail system across the continent and particularly accessing
Melbourne and Sydney via Melbourne as well as via Broken Hill. This study is
conclusive in the sense that it believes that such a systcm that Fremantle can
succeed as a landbridging port and a landbridging policy can operate cffectively
from Western Australia across Australia as the first port for much traffic from the
region near Western Australia and where for cargoes in demand that have time
constraints and the rest on them that thcre is a real possibility of cutting down sea
freight times and also port clearance times in the larger ports by landbridging out
of Frcmantlc.
One of the things that Western Australia is now doing and will continue to do is
get that. balanc into its primary exports sector with a larger scrvicc sector. And
the city of Perth largely is a service city and it serves the grcit agricultural and
mining industries of this State and we want to see it develop and proliferate as a
service centre also in things like freight. And in doing so it provides more ballast
to employment in Perth and hopefully by getting an efficient transportation system
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TEL: 7. Jul. 92 11: 23 No. 005 P. 03/ 03
it will mean that Western Australia can play its role as a service centre to South-
East Asia, to Indonesia, to Malaysia, to Singapore and all the countries in the
region where the sophistication of Australian services can be provided from thc
city of Perth and from Western Australia generally.
FIn hoping that as we pull the threads of this great change in the rail system
together under the ' One Nation' package and get the greenflelds agreement in place
and start the reconstruction of the Adelaide-Melbourne line, cleaning up the
access through the hills, lifting the bridges out of Fremnantle all the way to
Kalgoorlie so that we can put double stacked containers on rail, that wc Can start to
bring up the efficiencies that makes the rail system competitive with other forms of
transport, shipping included. That may not be designecd to gladden the heart of
shipping companies, but at least it will mean that there may be opportunities and
probably be more opportunities for shipping and landbridging across Australia for
cargoes in demand.
So, can I say that I'm very pleased that the Wustcrn Australian Government has
taken the issue up and now have plans in place to spend the ' One Nation' money to
fulfil the commitment to landbridging and that this study which is part mid parcel
of that which concludes in favour of landbridging that we will see it come to pass
and that the efficiencies which we are seeing coming from thc changes to the
waterfront productivity levels to crew manning on the coast to improvements in
the efficiency of the rail system will lead to a kind of transportation system In
Australia which reflects what it should have always been a more cfficient one for
the kind of trading country we are.
So it is with much pleasure that I launch the project, announce the study, publish
the study and conclude by congratulating Pain as the Minister, but particularly the
Premier for the farsightedness of the Western Australian Governmecnt in finding a
place for Western Australia in the great freight network of Australia and calling
Fremantle first in the great long run across the continent.
Thank you.

Transcript 8566