Eric Charlton

Eric Charlton

Former Minister for Transport

    Commitment to keeping Kimberley coastal shipping service reaffirmed

    18/03/1998 12:00 AM



    Transport Minister Eric Charlton today reaffirmed the State Government's commitment to maintaining a regular long-term coastal shipping service to the Kimberley.


    Mr Charlton said the Government intended to award a new contract which would ensure a coastal shipping service until at least 2002.


    "When the current agreement expires in February 1999 we will offer a two-year contract with a one-year option so that communities in the North-West can plan ahead with confidence," he said.


    The Minister said the Government had recently sought proposals from private operators to provide the service beyond the present contract date but the call did not result in significant benefits becoming available.


    "I now intend to seek new proposals a little closer to the expiry date of the current contract," he said.


    "With continued support from regional communities, there is no reason why the coastal shipping service should not be continually improved and endure well into the next century.


    "Our aim is to deliver to the Pilbara and Kimberley communities the best possible deal and that is why we went to the market for expressions of interest on a shipping service well ahead of the current contract expiry date."


    Mr Charlton said he had no doubt there would be a greater response from private operators when the next round of proposals were called.


    A range of uncertainties in the industry would become clearer in the coming months, including Federal shipping reform initiatives, waterfront reform developments, the state of the international shipping market, overseas currency movements and key commodity demand.


    "Better options are becoming available all the time and deferring the decision until later this year will maximise the level over service we can obtain for the North-West communities," the Minister said.


    Kimberley Development Commission chairman Peter McCumstie has welcomed the Minister's commitment to the long-term coastal shipping service.


    "With transport services playing such an important role in the development of the region's future it is vital that the best long-term arrangements are found," he said.


    "I am confident that with the Minister's confirmation of continued Government support and with strong regional support the service can have an exciting future."


    Media contact: Doug Cunningham 9321 7333