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Friday, 18 November 1938


Mr WILSON (Wimmera) .- I wish to direct the attention of the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Thorby) to a matter of national importance, namely, the need for more money to be made available to municipalities and other bodies, such as aero clubs, in country districts for the establishment and maintenance of aerodromes. In particular I have in mind the city of Mildura. The aerodrome in that centre is used by at least three air lines for services to Canberra, Sydney, Adelaide, Broken Hill and Melbourne. It is not within the financial ability of small municipalities to provide suitable allweather aerodromes. Some time ago I gained the information from an answer to a question that only meagre amounts have been allotted to assist in the development of these aerodromes. Particularly in these times every possible encouragement should be given to the development of country aerodromes. The Commonwealth has granted about £19,731 to assist these aerodromes, and of that sum, New South Wales has received £12,225; Victoria, £500; Queensland, £1,107; South Australia, £300; Western Australia, £1,350; and Tasmania, £4,139. The £500 received by Victoria has been paid wholly in respect of the aerodrome at Bendigo. The Government might well consider the advantage of having aerodromes in country areas and of assisting to make them efficient. The authorities in control of them are actually doing pioneering work, and should receive substantial financial aid. Everything possible should be done to develop air -mindedness by encouraging the formation of aero clubs which give instruction in flying. The aerodrome at Mildura, about which I am particularly concerned, is frequently used by the planes of the Royal Australian Air Force. The surface of the aerodrome has been disturbed a great deal by the propellors of the machines, and in wet weather I can well imagine that the landing ground would be a quagmire. I trust that the Government will review the whole question, and in view of its close connexion with defence, provide more liberal assistance for this national need.

Mr. DRAKEFORD(Maribyrnong) [4.32J. - I support the remarks of the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Wilson). It may be thought that, as a railway man, I am not interested in competitive industries calculated to take traffic away from the railways; but I think that the time is rapidly coming when it will be recognized that the control of all transport should be vested in one authority. Then, instead of competition, we should have cooperation. 1 have visited the Mildura aerodrome, and I consider that its condition reflects no credit upon any authority. I do not say that the control of commercial aerodromes should be solely under the Government. I was surprised at the answers supplied to tho questions asked by the honorable member for Wimmera, particularly when I noticed that only £500 had been provided for country aerodromes in Victoria, that sum having been allocated to the aerodrome at Bendigo. This matter should be considered from the defence aspect, and, although I have not consulted tho honorable member for Wimmera, it seems to be that the work of surfacing country aerodromes should be given to persons who are now unemployed. In wet weather, the landing grounds' would be dangerous to both pilots and passengers.







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