Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Monday, 4 June 1984
Page: 2431

Senator TOWNLEY(4.29) —I can remember raising this matter of VIP jets when the 707 aircraft were bought by the previous Government. It was one of the things that I objected to very strongly. I object now to the use to which Senator Walters has drawn attention. I remember quite clearly that when the aircraft were bought it was said that the Prime Minister would use them on his overseas trips because he did not want to cause trouble to the people travelling in the commercial aircraft-mainly those with Qantas Airways Limited-as well as the extra security risks that it said then were caused by having the Prime Minister on commercial aircraft. I ask the Minister: Why has there been a change in this attitude? Did the Government make any statement about it? Where does it intend to draw the line? We all know that Ministers go overseas quite regularly. Are they going to start using VIP aircraft? Adding to what Senator Walters asked , I think the type of aircraft that have been bought as VIP aircraft is very important. Perhaps we should have a breakdown of the percentage of use for VIP purposes, training purposes and for use within the Defence Force.

It seems to me that, like so many other things, when a government gets a piece of equipment such as a 707, it cannot keep its hands off it and gradually its use is extended. I imagined that eventually these very expensive aircraft-which in normal configuration carry about 150 or so passengers-would be used around Australia, when they were originally bought as I understood it, by the Prime Minister to make trips around the world, when the defence forces were not using them. We now have a situation which quite rightly has been drawn to the attention of the Committee by Senator Walters concerning the use of this aircraft by Mr Hayden. I think this is a very important matter. Perhaps if the Attorney-General cannot reply now he could make a statement to the Senate before the Senate rises at the end of next week about why this attitude has changed.