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Thursday, 31 May 1984
Page: 2221

Senator GRIMES (Minister for Social Security)(12.33) —Mr Temporary Chairman, unfortunately this matter has been raised and I now have more information which I was given yesterday. Therefore, if I may, I will give a brief reply. I am well aware that Senator Martin and Senator Boswell will not let the matter rest. They come from Brisbane and they want a proper looking and proper operating terminal, and I can understand that. I am also aware that senators from Adelaide would not let it rest if they thought that their terminal was inadequate. People from Cairns and Rockhampton and certainly people from Hobart would not let it rest.

Senator Martin —Cairns has a beautiful terminal. It leaves Brisbane's for dead.

Senator GRIMES —They are always beautiful when they are opened. Senator Martin quite justifiably raised the points which in fact I brought up, that the major criticisms concerning Brisbane Airport are, first of all, its appearance-it is a shed-and, secondly, its operational capacity. I am told that the modifications carried out in 1981 to 1982 make the terminal adequate for two arrivals and two departures in any 60 minutes. It is said that with increasing congestion it can cope with up to three arrivals and three departures in an hour. Senator Martin's criticism about the lack of an air bridge is, of course, right. There may be an inadequate number of umbrellas and arriving passengers have to splosh through the rain if it is raining. But what governments have to decide-what the honourable senator's Government and what we have to decide-is whether the lack of umbrellas would be better made up by providing more umbrellas or spending $ 45m. Forty five million dollars is a lot of money.

In the controversy over this matter in Queensland, particularly by Mr Jull, who is the chief agitator in this area, the thing that is cited all the time as the reason for building the air terminal now is Expo 88. The Minister and the Department quite reasonably point out that Expo will in fact extend over six months. However, the airlines claim that any additional passenger traffic- honourable senators know that planes do not go in and out of Brisbane full-is expected to be carried on scheduled services. Not all people will necessarily use Brisbane as their entry and exist airport. So we have to weigh up, in any economic times but particularly in difficult economic times, whether the expenditure of $45m now is justified to make up for the obvious inadequacies that Senator Martin mentioned. It will always be a matter of judgment. People who live in Brisbane and who have to meet people at Brisbane Airport will think that $45m is cheap. People living in the rest of Australia might not necessarily agree. I am reminded of the fact that I could do an awful lot with $45m for pensioners living in private rental accommodation.