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Tuesday, 5 May 1987
Page: 2289

Senator AULICH —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Aviation. The Minister will be aware from media reports that a certain well-known Melbourne businessman and prominent Liberal Party office-holder is possibly endangering his own life and those of other passengers by continuing to fly around the countryside in his corporate jet while not complying in all respects with the relevant air safety regulations. Can the Minister advise the Senate whether this person's plane complies with the regulations, and, if not, what the Government intends to do about it?

Senator GIETZELT —There was a statement in a weekly publication of several weeks ago, which was brought to my attention, that Mr Elliott has gold seat-belt buckles in his private jet. As Minister representing the Minister for Aviation in this place, I obviously checked with the Department of Aviation whether the use of that sort of metal would constitute some safety problems. Of course, it may well be a breach of air safety regulations. I am not a metallurgist. I do not claim to have any expertise in this area. But I know that it is a soft metal and it would not meet the structural requirements for seat-belt buckles, which the Department tells me must be rigid in order to avoid deformation in the case of an accident. It would certainly be distressful to me as well as to many other people if the Liberal Party of Australia were to lose its Treasurer and the future member for Higgins if he were trapped in the burning wreckage of the Elders IXL company aircraft because the gold buckle was defective in carrying out its proper safety functions. This needless sort of opulence and ostentatious consumerism is indicative of the self-interest of some conservative business leaders such as Mr Elliott, who keep calling for substantial spending cuts in government sector spending while, I believe, neglecting to pay their fair share of tax. It is a case of people like Mr Elliott calling upon us to tighten our belts while they tighten the gold seat-belt buckles in their private jets.