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Thursday, 22 October 1931

Mr WHITE (Balaclava) .- Under Division 79 - Civil Aviation Branch, Department of Defence - there appears the item " Subsidy of aerial ambulance service, Queensland, £1 ". That, in my opinion, is somewhat ironic. In the previous two years, a subsidy was granted to the Australian Inland Mission, which has performed a service of incalculable value in Queensland. Its base is at Cloncurry, and it subsidizes the Queensland andNorthen Territory Aerial Service to transport a medical man to places where his services may be needed in cases of sickness. The Queensland

Government has paid the mission a small subsidy and the balance of the money which it has needed has been subscribed privately, largely by the H. V. McKay bequest. The contribution of the Commonwealth Government was very small, compared with the value of the service that was rendered by the mission; yet, for some reason that has not been disclosed, and that has not been satisfactorily explained, so far as I have heard, no amount appeared on the Estimates this year for this purpose. The board of the mission asked me if I would invite a delegation to meet the Ministers concerned, and a deputation waited on the Ministers for Defence and Home Affairs and the PostmasterGeneral to ascertain whether, perhaps, £200 could be made available from the contingency vote of each of those three departments. The deputation received a courteous reception, and was given a good hearing, but was informed that no amount could be made available this year. The opinion was expressed, however, that next year something in the direction desired might be possible. I think that some reply should be made as to why the money has not been provided. A definite service is being supplied from the Home Affairs stand-point. I quote the following paragraph from a letter received from one of the police stations in the FarNorth. It is as follows:-

Situated as I am here on the junction of two great stock routes, along which every year come many thousands of travelling cattle with their attendant droving plants, I am in a position to receive many sick and injured people in the year, and do so receive them. Most are received and treated by me successfully, but nobody hears of them. At times, however, comes a case with which 1 cannot cope, and it is then that the Flying Medical Service takes from my shoulders the responsibility such as it is in my opinion distinctly wrong for any layman to be called upon to bear.

The Minister knows that the flying doctor recently visited Mornington Island, and dealt with an epidemic amongst the natives there which might have cost the Government many thousands of pounds. The service is a definite asset also to the Postal Department. The mission has issued wireless sets to stations within a radius of 400 miles of Cloncurry. I have a list of twenty stations which take telegrams from the cattle stations round about, and transmit them to the department. It is not necessary to dilate on the advantages of the service from a defence point of view. It ensures that a trained pilot is in commission, it serves to make the people airminded, and induces them to look upon the humanitarian side of aviation. It is no exaggeration to say that this service has saved each year as many lives as are lost in aviation, and yet the Government cannot find a paltry £600 for its support. Yet in the same Estimates the Government enters into a contract with a private company-s- West Australian Airways Limited - in connexion with some advertising work, and arranged to pay it £3,000. The Government did not go on with the contract, but it has paid the company £657 Ils. 9d. I asked a question recently whether a payment had been made to the West Australian Airways Limited by way of compensation, and was given tlie following reply : - -

No payment lias been made to West Australian Airways by .way of compensation. I may say, however, for the honorable member's information, that the sum of £G57 Us. 9d. was paid to West Australian Airways Limited, in full and final settlement of a claim for reimbursement of expenditure incurred by the company in connexion with a special air mail publicity campaign for the East-Wed service. This campaign was originally approved by Cabinet as a joint effort by thu Commonwealth and the company to attract a greater volume of air mail traffic to this service, and consequent benefit to Commonwealth in surcharge air mail postage, expenditure to lie incurred by Commonwealth and company on a £1 for fi basis. Subsequently, however, and before the Commonwealth had incurred any expenditure, the matter was reviewed in the light of the adverse financial situation, and the arrangements cancelled by the Commonwealth. The suspension of the campaign in its early stages deprived the company of any financial benefit from it, and after considering various factors, Cabinet approved of the refund to the company of all expenditure incurred which was deemed to be a reasonable charge against the publicity scheme.

This excellent medical service has been assisted by government funds in the past. It is undenominational in its work, and deserves assistance now, yet on page. 124 of the Supplementary Estimates it appears that the sum of £1 is being granted as a subsidy.

Mr Theodore - Tlie honorable member knows that the sum of £1 is the amount spent in excess of the vote.

Mr WHITE - Yes; but the service received no subsidy this year. A subsidy of ls. a mile was paid to " Qantas," and

I believe that the total amount paid has never exceeded £600 in any one year. Had this matter been brought before the attention of the Minister at the proper time, I believe that he would have granted the request. I mention the matter now in order to bring it under the notice of the three departments which benefit from this service, and to ensure that the amount will be placed on the Estimates next year.

Motion agreed to.

Motions (by Mr. Theodore) agreed to-

That there be granted to His Majesty to the service of the year 1927-28, for the purposes of additions, new works, buildings, &c, a further sum not exceeding £0,115.

That there be granted to His Majesty to the service of the year 1928-29 for the purposes of additions, new works, buildings, &c, a further sum not exceeding £32,149.

That there bc granted to His Majesty to thu service of the year 1929-30 for the purposes of additions, new works, buildings, &c, a further sum not exceeding £25,470.

Resolutions reported; Standing Orders suspended and resolutions adopted.

Resolutions of Ways and Means founded upon resolutions of supply reported and adopted.

Ordered -

That Mr. Theodore and Mr. Scullin do prepare and bring in bills to carry out the foregoing resolutions.

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