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Thursday, 24 November 1927

Mr FORDE (Capricornia) (11:56 AM) . - In the limited time at my disposal I do not intend to congratulate the Government on anything. I am tired of waiting for aerodromes to be established at Bundaberg and Rockhampton. These projects have been brought before the Government on several occasions, and the excuse invariably offered is that the aerial traffic is not sufficient to justify the expenditure that will be involved. 1 made representations on this subject to the honorable member ft.r Calare (Sir Neville Howse) when he was Ministerfor Defence. The total cost of an aerodrome at Rockhampton would not be more than £3,170. About £350 would be involved in putting in order the 74 acres of land already acquired, and not more than £50 a year would be required to retain somebody to watch over the machines arriving at the aerodrome from time to time. The Government is wrong in demanding that these centres must prove that the aerial traffic is available before aerodromes will be established. Aviation cannot be encouraged unless aerodromes are provided at which aviators may land and house their machines. Rockhampton, with a population of 26,000, is the centre of the great pastoral areas to the west about Clermont, Blackall and Longreach. Business people, pastoralists, graziers and others outback frequently desire to visit Rockhampton, but there is no place there at which an aeroplane may land with reasonable safety. The circumstance3 at Bundaberg are similar. The residents of the district have asked that an aerodrome be established, and a very suitable piece of land is available at North Bundaberg. Mr. Gibson, who has travelled extensively, wrote to me that the site is an admirable one. But the Government says the expenditure that would be involved in establishing an aerodrome would not be justified. These: estimates include an appropriation of £200,000 for the encouragement of civil aviation. I say emphatically that I want those two aerodromes established to meet the demands of the people up there. If necessary, the Commonwealth should pay a subsidy to enable the service to be established from Rockhampton westwards and from Bundaberg to other centres, from which aviators could carry passengers to the coast. These services are absolutely essential. The Government has always answered my previous requests with pleasant words. Today I want an assurance of something more tangible.

I protest against being denied an opportunity to speak at greater length on these estimates. Millions of pounds of public money are being voted without honorable members having an opportunity to criticize the Government's proposal. But in order to allow some other honorable member to voice hia protest 1 shall subside temporarily.

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