Transport Minister Eric Charlton said today record trade levels through the Port of Broome underlined its growing importance as a regional shipping centre.
"Like some other regional ports along the Western Australian coast, Broome is demonstrating that with flexible work practices, innovative management and customer-focus, there is an opportunity to dramatically expand business," Mr Charlton said.
He said that for the 11 months to the end of May this year, exports through Broome had been up by 81 per cent on the corresponding period last year.
"Total trade through the port is up by 40 per cent on 1996-97 and shipping revenue is up by 26 per cent on 1996-97," the Minister said.
He said cattle exports had led the way at the Port of Broome which was operated by Transport Maritime.
"May 1998 was a record month for cattle exports with 17,900 head shipped, mostly to markets in North Africa," the Minister said.
"The May cattle shipments eclipsed the previous September 1997 record of 11,900 head."
Mr Charlton said the growth in the port's trade had defied an expected downturn resulting from the Asian financial crisis.
"WA's cattle market has been quick to respond to the challenge brought on by the collapse of Indonesian buying," he said.
"It is very pleasing to see how quickly the industry has been able to develop markets in North Africa and the Middle East to compensate for the loss of the Indonesian trade."
Mr Charlton attributed the growth in trade at the Port of Broome to gains in competitiveness brought about by the Coalition's port reform policy.
"Workers at the Port of Broome have played a significant role in assisting exporters because they pride themselves on their ability to service ships quickly and efficiently," he said.
"Workers at the port are showing the value of flexible work practices and are actively involved in promoting ideas to improve efficiency. For example, they stagger their breaks so that there is no disruption to the continuity of operations."
Media contact: Doug Cunningham (08) 9321 7333