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Tuesday, 9 April 1957

Mr Ward d asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -

1.   Is it a fact that a considerable number of senior air pilots have recently left, or will very shortly leave, for overseas to take up positions with European airline companies?

2.   Will the departure of these men leave Australian aviation companies extremely short of experienced pilots?

3.   Is the present situation due to long-standing dissatisfaction with Australian rates of pay and working conditions which compare most unfavorably with those prevailing in a number of over seas airline organizations?

4.   If so, will the Minister state what steps have been taken, or are intended to be taken, by th, Government to correct the existing situation and so retain in Australia the services of experienced pilots to maintain the splendid record for safe operations which has been built up in this country, particularly by the Government-owned and operated Trans-Australia Airlines?

Mr Townley - The Minister for Civil Aviation has furnished the following replies to the honorable member's questions: -

1.   I can assure the honorable member there need be no cause for concern as to the number of air pilots who have left employment with Australian operators to accept posts with overseas airline companies. Actually the number of pilots who have accepted overseas posts has been very small and quite insignificant in relation to the total number of pilots employed in the industry. I would be surprised to learn of any considerable number of pilots who intend to take up overseas posts in the near future.

2.   Again, in answer to this question the honorable member may be assured there is no shortage of experienced pilots in Australia. 3 and 4. Salaries and working conditions of pilots in the employ of the various Australian airline operators were determined by the Full Arbitration Court in December, 1954, in accordance wilh normal wage fixation principles applying in this country.

In the proceedings leading to the issue of the Airlines Pilots' award the Australian Air Pilots Association placed before the court certain information as to the salaries of air pilots overseas in support of its claims. The learned judges of the Full Court, in their judgment in this matter, stated that they could not regard comparison between Australian and overseas rates of pay as giving any guide, however rough, to the fixation of the salaries of Australian air pilots. It was further stated by the court that the existence of a discrepancy between Australian and overseas salaries of pilots, a discrepancy which would likely be found as to other highly skilled and responsible employees, is not a ground for increasing the salaries of pilots. The court decided its task was to fix the Australian air pilot's salary in its proper place in this country's salary and wage system. Since the issue of the Airline Pilots' award in December, 19S4, pilots' salaries have been under almost constant review by the various airline companies and the rates approved by the Full Court were increased during 19SS and again with effect from 1st July, 1956. The substantial increases granted from 1st July, 1956, were as a result' of an agreement negotiated by the Air Pilots Association with Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited, Qantas Empire Airways Limited and Trans-Australia Airlines. I might add this agreement has been ratified by the Arbitration Commission and remains in force until 31st January, 1958.

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