Transport Minister Eric Charlton said today an announcement by P and O Ports Australia Ltd that it was calling on the MUA for changes to stevedoring work practices was a positive flow-on from weeks of turmoil on the Australian waterfront.
"I congratulate the company for its initiative and trust that the MUA is able to accept the cold, hard fact that findamental waterfront reform is essential for the future of this country," Mr Charlton said.
"P and O Ports Australia Ltd have declared publicly that there was a need to reduce costs and improve efficiency and productivity and that it was meeting with MUA and ACTU officials.
"I hope that something positive will come out of that meeting and that the waterfront will be a changed environment for the benefit of all importers and exporters," he said.
Mr Charlton said the desire by P and O Ports Australia Ltd to pursue an agreement with the union was a positive step forward.
"It goes without saying that the MUA must ultimately accept that work practices are loading unfair additional costs on to the port user," he said.
"It seems pretty clear that the push for change is gathering momentum right around Australia and the onus is now on officials of the MUA to show leadership qualities, instead of trying to make their point through confrontation.
"The time has come for the MUA officials to move away from their public relations agenda and do something positive for port users around the nation.
"Australians will welcome the move by P and O Ports Australia Ltd to push for new reforms because lower costs as a result of more efficient work practices on the waterfront will benefit the whole community."
Media contact: Doug Cunningam 9321 7333