AusRAIL, Market Sectors

Ministerial veteran takes infrastructure critics to task

<p>Former federal transport minister Peter Morris has moved to hose down some of the present heated debate on transport infrastructure, saying that some of the rhetoric ignores the cyclical nature of the commodity and transport industries.</p> <p>Mr Morris told a graduation ceremony at the Australian Maritime College in Launceston on Friday (March 18): "Always in transport it is a case first of making best use of existing infrastructure before rushing off to build more infrastructure.</p> <p>"The clamour about queues of coal ships ignores the cyclical nature of the coal industry. Lead-in times for new investment are long and if the investment is made too soon then the same critics clamour about poor investment decisions.</p> <p>"Queues of coal ships are not new &#8211 the first at the port of Newcastle was in the 1850s &#8211 and maybe someone could mention the perennial queues of ships off Hampton Roads on the US east coast."</p> <p>Mr Morris said in the container and general cargo trades there needesto be better co-ordination of support and maximising the use of existing facilities. </p> <p>"The transport chain from shipside to origin&#47destination for non-bulk freight is a continuing example of poor co-ordination and inefficiencies," he said.</p> <p>Mr Morris also told graduating AMC students "the latest moves to criminalise seafarers for pollution offences will drive even more able young people away from a career at sea".</p> <p>Ships’ officers have onerous responsibilities compared to alternative jobs ashore, with their powers reduced and their responsibilities increased, especially during port entry, cargo discharge, and departure, he said. </p> <br />