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Wednesday, 22 September 1982
Page: 1703

Mr HAWKE —I ask the Minister for Aviation whether he is aware of the following cable that was sent out of his Department yesterday:

To Mr J Walbolt, Branch Manager, Bank of America, Fairfield, California, USA. This cable is to certify that Mr W A Rodda will be departing the USA for Australia on 29 September 1982. He will be employed as an air traffic controller trainee and following training with the Department for a total period of three years. Removal costs will be reimbursed to Mr Rodda by this Department on presentation of the appropriate documents, these being a summary of estimates from three moving companies which quote cost and size of shipment of goods, and original receipts from the company effecting the removal. The maximum amount to be reimbursed to Mr Rodda is the cost of the lowest quote obtained. Reimbursement will be actioned by this Department's office in Melbourne, Victoria, and will be finalised within six weeks of Mr Rodda's arrival. Any further inquiries may be directed to the undersigned.

A. J. MacDonald, Department of Aviation . . . Canberra.

I ask the Minister, in the light of the answer to my previous question as to whether he was aware of this situation: Does he now say to this House that there is no program within his Department for bringing people from the United States to this country to train as air traffic controllers for a period of three years? In the light of the obvious fact that this is occurring, will he give the House an undertaking that he will bring this practice to an immediate halt and ensure that, in respect of the three-year training programs for air traffic controllers , all of these positions will be made available to young Australians?

Mr FIFE —I am not aware of the telex referred to by the honourable member for Wills. I imagine that a lot of telexes went out of my Department yesterday. I will make inquiries about the telex and its contents. I repeat what I said previously: We have been engaged in a recruitment program overseas, particularly in the United States of America.

Mr Armitage —This is for trainees.

Mr FIFE —I ask the honourable member to let me answer the question. I repeat what I said earlier: We have been engaged in a recruitment program overseas, particularly in the United States. The only reason why the Department undertook this recruitment program was the need to fill positions in the short term. As I understand the situation, even those people who are qualified air traffic controllers in another country do need to undertake some further training on coming to Australia.

Mr Hayden —For three years?

Mr FIFE —Whether it is for three years or not, I will make inquiries as I indicated. I will let the honourable member and the House have a full and detailed answer as soon as possible.