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Tuesday, 16 October 1984
Page: 1768


Senator HARRADINE(5.19) —I wish also to make a comment on the Independent Air Fares Committee report for 1983-84. I do so for two reasons. One reason is to draw the attention of the Senate to the fact that mention was made in the report of the death of a former member of the House of Representatives, an economist and member of the Independent Air Fares Committee, the Hon. Kevin Cairns, who died on 6 July 1984. The tribute to him is contained in chapter 10 of the Independent Air Fares Committee report. It was Kevin Cairns who in fact pointed to the problems associated with discretionary expenditure. He pointed to the fact that in order to find that group which is being affected by the current economic climate one needs to look at discretionary expenditure and how that expenditure is reduced. Of course holiday travel, particularly holiday travel interstate on aircraft, does involve discretionary expenditure. The figures made available to me by Kevin Cairns show that families are substantially affected by the current economic climate to the extent that they are spending less in real terms on holidays, including holiday travel.

As far as Tasmania is concerned, it is quite clear that the Bass Strait has a marked effect on the capability and capacity of families to travel interstate, not only for discretionary reasons such as holidays but also for more urgent reasons, perhaps concerning relations on the mainland. It is of concern to those of us from Tasmania that air fares are on the increase, and are increasing at a greater rate than is inflation. I believe that the average working person in the State of Tasmania has enough problems as it is in trying to make ends meet, without being faced with regular increases in air fares. As Senator Maguire said and as is detailed in the report, air fares have increased at a greater rate than has inflation. I believe this is a matter that must give concern to all those from Tasmania in this place and in the other place. Of course I recognise that special arrangements have been made by various governments in respect of Tasmania. However, the fact is that the cost of flying between Tasmania and the mainland is quite substantial, and that should be borne in mind when people consider reports such as that of the Independent Air Fares Committee.

I have no doubt that the Committee is doing a reasonable job in all the circumstances. It has an unenviable job, a task which it is required to perform by statute. I felt it was necessary for me to draw attention to the work it is doing, to draw attention to the fact that one of its members who contributed much to the work of the Committee, Kevin Cairns, has died and that in fact tribute has been paid to him on page 35 in chapter 10 of the report. I draw the attention of honourable senators to that chapter which deals with Kevin Cairns.

Debate (on motion by Senator Chaney) adjourned.