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Tuesday, 21 June 1949

Mr WATKINS - Will the Minister inform the House whether it is correct, as stated by the Newcastle Herald, that Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited hae been granted permission to use the Royal Australian Air Force aerodrome at Williamtown, Newcastle, on north-south journeys. Is it correct, also, that the time-table already worked out has been agreed to by the Department of Civil Aviation ?

Mr DRAKEFORD - Although statements have appeared, in both the Newcastle and Melbourne press to the effect that Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited has been granted permission for its aircraft to call at Newcastle, that is not correct. Up to the time that I inquired yesterday afternoon, after reading the statement in a Melbourne newspaper, no application for such permission had been received, although I understand that an application has since been received. The Williamtown Aerodrome is a Royal Australian Air Force aerodrome where Mustang and Vampire aircraft are based and training in high speed flying is carried out. It is the only aerodrome that is suitable for use by large-sized aircraft in the Newcastle area. Consequently, the Royal Australian Air Force is rightly reluctant that permission should be granted for civil aviation authorities to use it. Personally I am reluctant also that that aerodrome should be used extensively by civil aircraft. Following representations by the honorable member for Newcastle, the honorable member for Hunter, Senator Arnold and the Newcastle Chamber of Commerce, I personally inspected the aerodrome at Newcastle to see the position that might arise if permission were granted. As a result of that inspection it was agreed to permit very limited use of that aerodrome by civil aviation authorities. The New South Wales Government is very reluctant to agree to the Australian Government giving permission for the operation of air services which would conflict with fast first-class rail services provided by the New South Wales Government.

Mr Spender - Where are first-class rail services provided in New South Wales?

Mr DRAKEFORD - The rail service between Newcastle and Sydney is a fast first-class service. I can understand the honorable member's inquiry as he probably travels by car, which is apparently more convenient for him. In view of that first-class rail service only a limited air service to Newcastle has been permitted. This is merely another example of interested people arranging for certain statements to be pub lished in the newspapers at Melbourne, Sydney and other places, and then posing as injured persons when authority is not granted for services of the kind they desire. I object strongly to this practice. The East-West Airlines attempted to use that practice. They actually commenced and ran one service, but it is unlikely that that service will be maintained.

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