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Tuesday, 31 March 1987
Page: 1517

Senator DURACK —I refer the Minister representing the Minister for Aviation to my previous questions concerning the letting of the new coastal surveillance contract to a company known as Amman Aviation. I refer particularly to that part of the Minister's answer to my second question in which he said he had made his own investigations which revealed that the previous operator, Skywest Airlines, was:

. . . at a similar stage of establishment-

or perhaps I should say non-establishment-

when it won the previous contract for coastal surveillance in 1982.

I ask: Has the Minister been advised that at the time of tendering in 1982 Skywest had been in business for over 20 years; employed 161 staff, including 59 pilots; was operating 29 aircraft; and was running scheduled services from Perth and Port Hedland to many destinations in Western Australia? Is it a fact that Skywest was then the biggest general aviation operator in Western Australia and one of the biggest in Australia? Why did the Minister so blatantly mislead the Senate on 25 March in answer to the second part of this question with this totally untrue claim of a comparison between the state of readiness of the two companies concerned at the times in question?

Senator GIETZELT —I recall the questions asked of me by Senator Durack in respect of the tendering arrangements for our surveillance operations and the awarding of the contract to Amman Aviation. I have not been advised about any changes or further developments in respect of that.