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Thursday, 12 November 1959


Mr PEARCE (Capricornia) .- This debate has provided the socialists opposite with the opportunity they sought to launch another attack on Ansett-A.N.A.


Mr Bryant - We are not attacking Ansett-A.N.A.; we are attacking the Government.


Mr PEARCE - No; that is the technique. Whenever airlines are mentioned, the Opposition always paints Ansett-A.N.A. as the black partner. It suggests that there is something snide about this, that some favoritism is being shown to Ansett-A.N.A., and that this company is really not worth supporting. I cannot understand why the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) twisted his contribution to the debate to make an attack not upon the Government, but upon privately operated airlines. If we cast our minds back to 1949, we will realize that in those days, under the socialist Labour Government, the life of Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited, as it was then known, was strictly limited. If the Labour Party had won the 1949 election, A.N.A. would undoubtedly have been put out of existence, and we would have had one completely dominated, nationalized airline. The objective of the Labour Party still is to smash private enterprise in the air and to have one nationalized airline.


Mr Calwell - Why do you always travel T.A.A.?


Mr PEARCE - I speak then without bias, and that cannot be said of the honorable gentleman opposite, who objects. I travel consistently on T.A.A., but I pay tribute to the contribution that Ansett-A.N.A. has made to aviation in Australia and to the passengers who use its services. I deplore the objective of the socialists opposite, who wish to destroy this organization which is contributing so much to the service provided by our airlines. We continually hear the argument that we must dampen Ansett-A.N.A. and destroy the public's confidence in it.

In considering the puerile argument of the Opposition that T.A.A. is being destroyed by this Government, we need look, as the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) looked, only to the days of 1949, and compare them with the days of 1959. We will then realize how far T.A.A. has advanced in the ten years that this Government has been in office. It has made remarkable advancement and has now reached the stage at which it is recognized as the safest airline in the world. The working conditions of its staff are without peer anywhere. We have a high margin of contentment amongst the staff. It is true to say that in 1949 there was a great wave of discontent amongst members of the staff of T.A.A. at the way in which they were being treated by their socialist masters in this House at that time. T.A.A. and Ansett-A.N.A. have progressed to such a stage that to-day Australians can enjoy not only the safest air travel in the world but also luxury travel at cut rates because very few countries in the world have cheaper air fares than we have in Australia. Our fares are amongst the lowest in the world, and our standards are amongst the highest. That applies not only to safety but also to the luxury appointments of our aircraft and the comfortable conditions under which we travel.

Rather than knock this Australian enterprise and Australian air travel, the socialists opposite would do much more credit to themselves if they were to utter a word of praise for the men and women of the two organizations who have lifted Australian aviation to a standard which has won the admiration of the world.


Mr Calwell - We have always said that.


Mr PEARCE - The honorable member claims that he has always said that, but his utterances to-day comprised, on the one hand, an attack on our air services, and, on the other hand, a claim that T.A.A. is going downhill and that its standards are slipping. Those statements are typical of the knocking tactics of people who think only in a destructive way upon a constructive issue.

The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) said that airlines are being subsidized. Does he object to that subsidy? Why not pay a tribute to the Government which, through the Department of Civil Aviation, has made a great contribution, not only to our civil aviation, but also to our defence? Are not the aerodromes that have been built around the Australian continent one of our greatest defence measures and, therefore, one of our greatest needs to-day? Can expenditure on those aerodromes and facilities be charged as a subsidy?


Mr Calwell - We built them all.


Mr PEARCE - The honorable member states that Labour built them all. Labour left a skeleton of airstrips around the country which we have built up to such a standard that they can now accommodate the world's most modern aircraft. If the argument of the honorable member for Werriwa is correct that users, and not taxpayers, should pay, how do the socialists opposite reconcile that argument with the arguments that they advanced in relation to the postal charges. When legislation relating to that matter was before the House, they stood and screamed because the users had to meet the deficit on postal charges. Let us have a little consistency as we go along. If we are to argue about the large amount of money that is being well spent in providing safety and service in Australia, let us measure it against the charges that are made in other countries. The United Kingdom has spent nearly £30,000,000 on its international airport at London. It has to provide only one international airport. Other countries also have spent huge sums of money on aviation facilities. Not only have we got good value for our money in the form of security, defence and safer flying, but also we have built up a great national asset in our airline services through the Department of Civil Aviation. I deplore the fact that the Opposition continues to knock these two great services in the way that it has done to-day.

Motion (by Mr. Downer) agreed to -

That the business of the day be called on.

Sitting suspended from 12.44 to 2.15 p.m.







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