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Thursday, 31 May 1984
Page: 2220

Senator MARTIN(12.26) —As somebody who has had a long-standing interest in the new runway at Brisbane Airport I should point out that the Minister for Social Security (Senator Grimes) has made some comments which I think are a little bit too easy altogether. The holding of Expo 88 in Brisbane is, of course, an additional factor which was not even thought of when the Fraser Government decided in 1977 that the new runway would be built. In 1977 a decision had not been made to hold the Expo in Brisbane. At that stage Queensland had looked at the possibilities, but it was being considered by New South Wales and Victoria. Quite some time after that both Sydney and Melbourne decided that they could not handle an expo and the Queensland Government took it up again for Brisbane. We always knew that there was a plan of development and subsequent development for Brisbane Airport. However, nobody has ever been satisfied with the international facilities at Brisbane Airport.

I respect what the Minister has said and the sources of his information. However, if he says that the facilities at Brisbane Airport are adequate he can never have met anyone at the Brisbane international terminal or indeed arrived in Brisbane on an international flight himself. Those facilities are not adequate now. The people of Brisbane grin and bear it because that is all they have and it is that or nothing, I suppose. However, assurances that Expo will not result in traffic that that terminal cannot handle are just too glib by half . That answer might be given today and it may be well based factually in that there is an assumption in it that most of the people who will come from overseas to Expo 88 will come through Sydney Airport. I will not speak at any great length about what I think of the adequacy or inadequacy of Sydney Airport, which is not really much better than Brisbane for incoming passengers. But, that apart , the issue is Brisbane's terminal.

There are some other factors. I understand that some other airlines now are applying or are preparing applications for permission to take flights into Brisbane. These are flights that are not scheduled for Brisbane at the moment. However, airlines, taking into consideration all the factors-and Expo 88 would be one-have now reconsidered their position in relation to flights to Australia and are indicating a firm intention to seek approval to have flights into Brisbane. So the answer cannot be given on the basis of the number of flights that use Brisbane Airport now and the number of people who pass through the international terminal now.

In case this issue comes before the Minister again, I offer him a word of caution. Our statistics on destinations of overseas arrivals are very poor, as are our statistics on the original point of departure of people travelling overseas. A very large number of people who travel from Brisbane overseas go through Sydney because they have to do so. The information that we get about the point of origin of overseas travellers would include a very large number of Queensland people in the Sydney statistics.

The airlines statistics compound this. We should take into account also the method of booking adopted by certain corporations. For instance, if the Commonwealth Banking Corporation wanted someone from its Brisbane office to fly to San Francisco the arrangements may well be made in Sydney because that organisation may make all bookings through its Sydney office. This would show in airlines statistics as Sydney-originating travel. This practice is not unusual in corporations and large organisations. So the statistics are not good. I mention this to the Minister because I believe he should not be too convinced about what the information that is handed to him on occasions actually proves. The simple fact is that there are new factors. Airlines are indicating that they want to initiate flights from overseas into Brisbane. It is anticipated that a very large number of people will pass through the international terminal at Brisbane Airport. At present we have a shed. I am not being fatuous when I suggest that, at the very least, the Minister might seriously consider how many umbrellas the Department of Aviation intends to supply to the international terminal. I say, blushing with shame, that I have greeted visitors who have flown into Brisbane from overseas when, as often happens in the summer in Queensland, it has been raining.

Senator Robert Ray —It is always raining.

Senator MARTIN —Not always, but it sometimes happens-usually very early in the morning. I am talking about the 6 a.m. flights. One can just imagine the situation when a Jumbo jet with 200 or 300 passengers lands in Brisbane on a rainy day. Apparently there just are not that many umbrellas at Brisbane Airport . I have seen people's introduction to Australia-and what concerns me more, Queensland-being one of slip-slopping across the tarmac and getting drenched. I raise that as an aside to point out just how hopeless that terminal is. There is no covered access from aircraft to terminal for people arriving or departing. Indeed, these facilities are not available at the domestic terminals either. The issue will not rest there. Senator Boswell, I, and I am sure other Queensland senators, will be pressing the issue with quite some vigour in the immediate months ahead.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Elstob) —Before calling the Minister, I just point out that, although I allowed Senator Boswell to ask a question in respect of the Department of Housing and Construction estimates, I believe that the questions asked by Senator Martin would be more appropriately dealt with in group F under the estimates for the Department of Aviation. I realise that Senator Boswell's question had some relationship to the Department of Housing and Construction, which is the constructing authority in this instance. However, I believe that questions relating to aviation should be deferred until we deal with the Group F estimates.