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Monday, 10 October 1994
Page: 1311

Senator PANIZZA (3.20 p.m.) —I move:

  That the Senate take note of the answer given by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Gareth Evans), to a question without notice asked by Senator Hill this day, relating to the balance of payments.

I wish to address one part of the minister's answer, that is, that he used the excuse of Qantas bringing in two jets—I forget whether he said two jumbos or two jets—

Senator Gareth Evans —I said $248 million.

Senator PANIZZA —I am glad that Senator Evans is back. That excuse is always used when there is a high balance of payments blow-out, which is quite usual these days. I think it is time we started questioning Senator Evans when he says that. He did not quite specify how much they were or whether they were leased or purchased outright. If they were purchased outright, then that figure would add up to quite an amount and would tend to put things out of kilter in the average month. If they happen to be leased, it is only the monthly lease, I presume, that would have gone out because I presume that they are leased from an overseas consortium. In that case, it would only be the monthly lease. If it was an outright purchase, surely that outright purchase price is reduced by the 22-odd per cent—I think that is the correct figure—which British Airways owns of Qantas. That would have a deflating effect.

  In future when this minister uses that excuse I think that he should be more definite, because there are various ways of financing those jets. The annual report of Qantas refers to multicurrency financing, hire purchase and finance deals. There is mention in the latest report of the airline of moving towards outright purchase. If we are moving towards outright purchase, I find that hard to believe, otherwise the report would have mentioned that that figure had been arrived at.

  I question the fact that the minister has used this excuse. Perhaps at another time he will tell us exactly how much Qantas has purchased. It has to be fitted in somewhere in the 12 months. Before he uses that excuse again, and we listen to him as if it is gospel, he should come back and tell us how much it causes an extra blow-out in one particular month.