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Wednesday, 8 May 1985
Page: 1526


Senator MAGUIRE —My question, which is to the Minister representing the Minister for Aviation, relates to the review, instigated by the Government, of the two-airline policy. Is the Minister aware that while Trans Australia Airlines operates 35 scheduled flights and Ansett Airlines of Australia operates 34 scheduled flights from Melbourne to Adelaide each week, there are 33 duplicated flight departure times? What can be done about the abomination of parallel scheduling which probably would not be tolerated in any other country? In particular, will the review of the two-airline policy examine the duplicated flight times of the major airlines which inconvenience many travellers?


Senator RYAN —The review referred to in Senator Maguire's question will be headed by the prominent Australian businessman Mr Thomas E. May. This was announced by the Minister for Aviation in early March. Its terms of reference call for a review of existing arrangements for the economic regulation of domestic aviation in Australia. Mr May has been asked to report to the Government by the first half of 1986 on possible options for the future. The purpose of the review is to place the Government in a position to determine a framework for domestic aviation arrangements into the 1990's in a manner best suited to Australia's unique requirements. The terms of reference for the review are broad ranging to allow Mr May to address a wide range of issues.

One of the particularly important issues the review will address is the question of how consumer needs may be best satisfied in an environment which will allow the industry to compete efficiently. I have no doubt that the often raised question of parallel scheduling will be raised in this context. I am advised that the Minister is aware of the current schedules of interstate trunk route flights provided by Ansett and TAA to and from Adelaide. The Minister is also aware of the recent comments on the matter by the honourable senator. The Commonwealth's authority in relation to the approval of interstate airline schedules is limited to matters concerned with the safety of air navigation. Decisions relating to schedules are matters for the commercial judgment of the airlines themselves.

Under the present airlines agreement, trunk route airline services are generally restricted to Ansett and TAA. In a situation where both airlines operate similar networks and aircraft fleets and are based in Melbourne it is not surprising that their schedule times are similar, given that each airline must compete to maximise its share of the passenger market. I am aware that the honourable senator has made a submission to the review on this matter. The Minister calls on all interested parties to make similar reviews. Mr President, I realise that there is a great deal of interest in this matter; so for the information of honourable senators I seek leave to have incorporated in Hansard the terms of reference of the Review of Economic Regulation of Domestic Aviation.

Leave granted.

The terms of reference read as follows-

REVIEW OF ECONOMIC REGULATION OF DOMESTIC AVIATION: TERMS OF REFERENCE

Recognising the Government's policy to retain TAA as a wholly Commonwealth owned enterprise, the consultant shall:

(a) review existing arrangements for economic regulation of domestic aviation in Australia and report to the Government on possible options for the future;

(b) have regard to, and report upon the impact of, the following matters insofar as they relate to domestic aviation:

(i) the public interest;

(ii) the role of East-West Airlines;

(iii) the role of other regional airlines and commuter (Supplementary Airline Licence) operators insofar as they impinge on the major trunk and regional routes;

(iv) import of aircraft;

(v) capacity control;

(vi) pricing control, including public interest considerations of passing on costs;

(vii) access by Qantas to carriage of domestic passengers;

(viii) the role of large aircraft charters;

(ix) Commonwealth/State powers in respect of economic regulation;

(x) implications for the air freight sector;

(xi) economic regulatory arrangements for domestic aviation in overseas countries, and any conclusions which may be of relevance to Australia;

(xii) Commonwealth/State/Territories tourism policies;

(xiii) the economic efficiency implications of each option; and

(xiv) the Government's proposed general review of business regulation;

(c) also have regard to maintaining the safety of air service operations-but shall not make recommendations on operational/safety matters; and

(d) undertake such other related tasks as are referred by the Minister for Aviation.