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Thursday, 27 November 1986
Page: 2933

Senator TOWNLEY(9.35) —I also would like to make reference to this matter because it has become quite a nuisance over the last few months. It seems to me that the rules of the Department have not changed since the years of the DC3. The young people in this chamber, such as Senator Puplick, would not remember the DC3s. In those days the rule was that passengers' carry-on baggage must not exceed 10 pounds, which, roughly converted, is 4 kilograms. I know what the rule is now. At the moment any passenger who boards an aeroplane, whether it be an international passenger in first class, business class or economy class, can take on the same amount, but the first class passengers pay half as much again for the air fare as the economy passengers. Why the Department has let this kind of thing go on and on, and why the Independent Air Fares Committee allows the airlines to charge half as much again for a first class fare when they do not give those first class passengers half as much again in benefits, I do not know. I have recently been tempted to write to the Independent Air Fares Committee--

Senator Zakharov —You get a great deal more comfort. Try going overseas by economy.

Senator TOWNLEY —All the overseas tickets I buy are economy tickets because I have used up all my allowance. I believe the Independent Air Fares Committee should bring this to the notice of the airlines, if they have not already had it brought to their notice. It is quite ridiculous that when there is space available in the front of aircraft we cannot carry on a sensible amount of hand luggage. I make it clear that I know the baggage limit rule is not the rule of the Department. I have been informed that that is so. The precise limits in size which the airlines impose are to be determined by reference to the dimensions of the overhead lockers and under-seat storage in the aircraft. I am told that the Department of Aviation has no part to play in this. I am sorry if I am taking the Minister's reply from him. But I believe that the Department should allow people who are travelling first class, and who may be travelling unexpectedly, to carry on more luggage than they are presently allowed. At the moment we have the tidiest front areas of aircraft in the world. The Department must not give me the rubbish about safety. Whenever the Department says that something is a matter of safety, I know that it is either too lazy or incompetent and is not able to handle the situation, because that is always what it falls back on. This is not a matter of safety; it is a matter of the Department not having sat down with the airlines and told them that in certain areas passengers can carry on certain amounts, and in other areas passengers can carry on more. I think it is time the Department did something about this.