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Monday, 4 June 1984
Page: 2432

Senator GARETH EVANS (Attorney-General)(4.34) —No more VIP aircraft have been purchased. There have been two more special purpose 707s bought. They were the subject, as I recall, of answers to questions in this place during the last year. They are not part of the VIP fleet as such. They are used for defence purposes-for in-flight refuelling and things of that kind. They are capable of a passenger configuration too in appropriate circumstances. The occasions on which they are used overseas involve less than 15 per cent of total flying hours. Mr Hayden used special purpose aircraft in the Middle East just as Mr Anthony did as Deputy Prime Minister. The Committee has the information in respect of aircraft associated with VIP flights.

There is no mystery about this. Might I suggest that it a is bit difficult being expected to deal with questions of this kind in the Committee of the Whole . These are quintessentially ones that have traditionally been regarded as appropriate to ask the Estimates committees as such with this occasion here being used, quite properly, to pursue questions which are not the subject of answers that have been promised or something of that kind at the committee hearings. If we are going to turn these occasions into a full dress rerun of committee hearings it involves a full dress presence of officers who are capable of answering questions on the whole range of matters of detail that might come up in relation to a particular department. I acknowledge that Senator Walters and Senator Townley have a political point to make. Well, they have made it. Can I suggest we now move on to the other matters, given the enormously pressing work load confronting this chamber.