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Thursday, 26 November 1959


Mr DUTHIE (Wilmot) .- I support the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), who outlined the Labour Party's attitude to this bill. We oppose the bill. We do not disagree with certain principles contained in it, but at this stage we feel that it is the right thing to oppose the bill. We did so in the Senate and we will do so in this House when the vote is taken to-night.

I would just like to mention two or three aspects of the legislation. I think the Minister was completely correct when he said in his second-reading speech -

I am also equally conscious of the growing demand of the travelling public for adequate facilities at Commonwealth airports.

But that is as far as I will go in agreeing with the Minister. I agree with the bare statement, but I do not agree that there is a great public demand for the facilities, especially liquor facilities, that the Government proposes to provide at airports under this grandiose scheme. Consider the various facilities that are provided at overseas airports. This will give an indication of what could happen here, and how grandiose this scheme could become. The businesses carried on at overseas airports include advertising agencies, baggage and locker rooms, barber shops, beauty parlours - they will not worry me - car parking lots, children's nurseries, cocktail lounges, coffee shops, agencies for conducted tours - that is an interesting item - delivery services, drive-yourself car services, flower shops, gift shops, insurance machines, newsstands, photographers, restaurants, service stations, snack bars, tobacconists and vending machines. The only thing they have not included is the Myer Emporium. That is the kind of set-up that you find overseas. and I suggest we should not be so grandiose as to establish similar business concessions at airports in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide or Perth.

Some of these facilities are excellent and I do not oppose the inclusion of the more sensible ones at our airports. I agree that a remarkable range of facilities is available at overseas airports. I know what I am speaking about in this matter, because I have had the privilege of passing through eighteen international airports, including Hong Kong, Tokyo, Manila, Singapore, Djakarta, Paris, Geneva, London, Shannon, Gander in Newfoundland, Montreal, Washington, Cleveland, Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco, Honolulu and Nandi in Fiji. That constitutes a fair range of overseas airports, and the facilities I have mentioned are provided at nearly all of them, hut I am opposed to the liquor facilities even at those airports.

I also wish to criticize the proposed method of tendering for these concessions. There is no doubt that the bill will go through. We have not the numbers, and we do not kid ourselves that we can defeat the measure. We realize that the bill will be passed, but this does not prevent us from protesting vigorously against legislation that we believe is detrimental to the interests of the public. What will happen when tenders are called for these concessions? The big firms of Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth will have the financial backing to enable them to make high bids for the leases. Therefore, the little man, who has been gradually crushed out of existence in other fields by this monopolyminded Government, will be kept out of these airport businesses. The big fellows will be the only ones able to make high bids for the leases. I criticize the method of tendering for this reason. It will allow those gentlemen in who already have enough of the world's goods, and I believe that the little man should be given encouragement and consideration.

I am also very much opposed to the provision in clause 9 of the bill which allows the holder of an authority under the act to sell liquor at airports. The liquor, we are told, will be sold in cocktail bars. This is a flash name that covers a multitude of sins. When you are talking about the selling of liquor it is amazing how many flowery names are used for grog shops and pig troughs in this country. Having been in so many countries overseas, I can say quite honestly that we in Australia do drink in very poor conditions compared with people in other countries. Though I am not a drinker, I am not narrow-minded enough to suggest that a person should not drink if he wishes to, but I am against providing extra facilities in this country for grog drinking, whether those facilities be cocktail bars or straight-out beer bars. The argument that we should do what other countries are doing is, I think, weak, and is put forward only by simple-minded persons. I, for one, would not like to see all aspects of the American way of living introduced into this country, but unfortunately we are being Americanized while we sleep. Our airlines are being Americanized, as I mentioned in a debate on the motion for the adjournment of the House a week or two ago. I showed that because of the influence of Mr. Ansett the standard of our airlines is being lowered. Although there is supposed to be competition between Ansett-A.N.A. and TransAustralia Airlines, Ansett is being allowed to dominate the field and to lower the standard that we have been able to build up. American standards are being adopted in our airlines and now they are to be introduced to our airports.

One can obtain every conceivable thing in American airports to-day. An American airport is a little township on its own, a Myer Emporium on its own. People work around the clock at those airports day and night, year in year out. That is what will happen here as a result of the legislation before us.

Let me refer again to the matter of the supply of liquor at airports. I believe we should explain why we do not wish these new facilities to include the provision of liquor. I have a feeling that my party would have supported this measure had it not contained this vicious clause providing for the sale of liquor at airports. I personally cannot see much wrong with giving a modern touch to our airports by increasing the facilities available and by constructing nice modern buildings, which are sadly lacking at some airports. I am not against the facilities being improved, but the improvement of facilities may be an excuse to make liquor available at airports. After all, people coming and going by air spend only a short time at the airports, and because time will not be available to use other facilities, the liquor bar will have the greatest custom. People will not have time to have a hair cut. They may have time to buy a bunch of flowers, although, personally, I prefer to buy chocolates.

Some of the facilities that are proposed are quite sensible, but I feel that the time available to air travellers will not permit of their being used to any great extent. Beauty parlours are a case in point. Ladies are already well-dressed before they reach the airport, and they look very nice when they are going away. Children's nurseries may be all right. We already have coffee shops available. A bank would be of help to some people. We already have driveyourself cars; indeed, the Avis cars are doing a good job. I do not see much use for insurance machines. We have news stands already. We get enough of photographers now. When a bill dealing with members' salaries is before the Parliament, we find a crowd of photographers at the airport taking photographs of members who are robbing the country by increasing their salaries. Photographers haunt the country now. Restaurants are all right, and we already have snack bars. I agree with the provision of tobacconists' shops. When these items are taken separately, we see that there is not much that would be of use to travellers, with our small population. But the liquor licence is another matter. In some States, it will cut right across State legislation. This would apply in Victoria, which has local option. Conceivably, in a local option area, the airport would be selling liquor day and night but hotels nearby close at 6 o'clock. I cannot see much advantage in that.

I shall give some of the reasons for my opposition to this measure. I received today from New Zealand an excellent pamphlet published by the New Zealand Alliance, the general superintendant of which is Mr. H. W. Milner. His letter concerned legislation that is to be brought down in New Zealand on this very point, and the New Zealand Government may be guided by what this Parliament does with this bill. That makes me feel concerned about the consequences that would flow if this bill became law. In his letter dated 2'ith November, Mr. Milner said -

In Canada we are informed that the Minister for Transport, Hon. George Hees, has told the press that the Government in Canada has no intention of establishing cocktail bars in the new international airports.

I say good luck to them; I am pleased that one country has some courage. The idea of providing liquor has become an obsession in Australia. Nothing can be done without it. A person cannot have his photograph taken at a social gathering without a glass in his hand, and this applies to teenagers as well. Liquor is available everywhere, and can be obtained almost at every street corner. The airports were a blind spot in the great network of liquor facilities. They were a no-man's land. As members of Parliament, we travel a good deal to and from Canberra, and we believe that airports as they are now, without any liquor facilities, are a blessing and a peaceful place to relax in while waiting for an aeroplane. But what will they become when effect is given to this legislation? Mr. Milner sent me this pamphlet, which has just been published for distribution in New Zealand. It is called, " To Whom It May Concern ". It gives a few potent reasons for opposing the sale of liquor at airports.


Mr Anderson - Who is he?


Mr DUTHIE - He is the general superintendant of the New Zealand Alliance. He is a teetotaller. The first reason given in the pamphlet is -

As a general rule the airport tearooms, lounges and waiting rooms all merge into one and it is the only space available for visitors, travellers, the general public, and families with teenagers and children of all ages.

Children will present a special problem at airports. They will be in an atmosphere that is very much like the local town with its two or three hotels; they will be right in the area where liquor is sold. The law recognizes in most States that a person under 21 years should not be on licensed premises. But these airports will be licensed premises and persons under 21 years, arriving at and leaving the airports, will be on the spot where liquor is sold, although just half a mile away they would not be permitted on licensed premises. At an airport, they will be brought right up against the temptation of drink. Another reason given in the pamphlet is -

This airport license would militate against the prohibition of sale of liquor to minors and if it followed the proposed Australian pattern of all hours service it would be a betrayal of the 75.5 per cent, of the voters who supported six o'clock closing ten years ago in New Zealand.

The same percentage of voters supported 6 o'clock closing, in Victoria. The pamphlet gives as another reason -

A licence ... to serve people travelling or using the airport or having refreshment there, being so near to the city, would be impossible of control as far as liquor consumption by the general public is concerned.

This is a very important point. How will we control the use of airports by members of the general public who are not travelling by air? They could enter the buildings in the guise of travellers, and this presents difficulties of control. There are 4,000 employees at the Melbourne airport as well. A further reason given in the pamphlet is -

The airport is already a popular trip for families in private cars and a licence would create an intensified road hazard, particularly during the evenings.

This is very true of airports around the cities. I know from personal experience at Hobart, Launceston and Devonport that, particularly on Sundays, literally hundreds of cars with what we call " week-end trippers " pull up for an hour at the airport to watch the aeroplanes take off and land. These people coming to airports will have the opportunity to turn their trip into a period spent at the cocktail bar.


Mr Anderson - Do they want to do that?


Mr DUTHIE - They may want it, when the facilities are right there in front of them. Not all of them are as strong-willed as you are. Another point raised in the pamphlet is this -

To provide for and encourage passengers to consume liquor before flight militates against and undermines the two foregoing provisions.

This relates to the ability of a traveller to finish a trip in a proper state.

It is a well-known scientific fact that a person with alcohol in his blood who is stone sober on the ground, at a high altitude may become a nuisance and a danger to himself and others or may even go beserk.

Mr. C.N. Sayer, president of the International Airline Pilots' Association, explained in evidence before the United States

Senate Committee that the effect of drink in flight when added to a reduced oxygen pressure and a strange environment may be the final step in causing a normal, welladjusted individual to become an uncontrollable hazard. Evidence given before that committee in August, 1957, detailed instances of emergencies occurring in at least 23 airlines in America in the preceding two years. Those emergencies are summarized in this way -

Four instances of drunken passengers forcing their way into the cockpit.

Eight cases where flight crew members had to abandon their cockpit duties to quell disturbances created by inebriated passengers.

Three unscheduled emergency landings to remove drunken passengers whose behaviour was threatening their plane's safety.

Three intoxicated passengers inadvertently actuating or damaging windows, doors and pressurized devices in flight.

Five cases of drunken passengers creating fire hazards in Sight and refusal to comply with safety regulations.

Three instances of carrying arms and in one case a stewardess was threatened with a pointed revolver when asking for coffee.

Another case involved an assault on a stewardess by a gun-carrying drunk. The offender . told the passengers boastfully "not to worry if anything happened to the crew because he would and could fly the aircraft".

There was one other case of a man who went berserk and the passengers had to hold him down and practically choke him before he could be pacified sufficiently to enable him to complete the trip. These are actual happenings in the United States in 1956 and 1957.

Pilots, as we know, abstain. A few years ago the secretary of the International Bureau against Alcoholism wrote to the principal aviation companies throughout the world seeking information with regard to the restriction placed on drinking by pilots. Replies were received from nine airlines in Africa, ten airlines in North America, nine airlines in Central and South America, thirteen airlines in Asia, eight airlines in Australasia and fifteen airlines in Europe. Of those 64 companies, 51 demanded that their personnel abstain from alcohol before duty. Of those 51 companies, eighteen demanded that their pilots abstain for at least 24 hours before flight; 21 companies specified twelve hours; two companies specified ten hours and ten companies specified eight hours. Six companies prohibited the drinking of alcohol during the service period and two companies would not divulge their regulations.

So pilots are careful to abstain and keep themselves 100 per cent, fit in order to handle fast-flying aircraft in all weathers. To their everlasting credit airline companies in Australia are on the top rung so far as safety is concerned. I would not support any bill that may in any way lower our present high safety standard. It is a sorry state of affairs when crew members must assist air hostesses to control inebriated passengers. If a passenger has to wait at an airport for, say, an hour or more because of some delay in the departure of his flight and he spends that time in the cocktail bar, what condition will he be in when he ultimately boards the aircraft? We are not dealing with some airy-fairy matter. This is a very important matter and deserves careful consideration. The pilots say that there is no way of knowing how a passenger will react during flight. One of the greatest fears of all pilots is fire in flight. The careless use of cigarettes or matches by an inebriated passenger could start a small fire which could create panic. There have been instances where it has been necessary for a pilot to leave the flight deck in order to subdue inebriated passengers. If such a pilot were injured the aircraft would be deprived of his services and an emergency would be created. So safety is of paramount importance.

Those points, which have been raised by the pilots themselves, are important. I want to mention another point. We have heard how a bill was recently squeezed through the House of Commons to permit liquor to be sold at international airports. The bill had been blocked for more than five years as a result of opposition by pilots and a large body of public opinion. It has only squeezed through the House of Commons after five years delay just as the bill we are debating to-night is being squeezed through after being withdrawn the first time it was presented because of the outcry against it from people in all walks of life in this country.

I think the shabbiest argument submitted by the Minister was that these proposals are to be put into effect in order to reduce the losses sustained by the Government in maintaining airports. That is sheer materialism. There is no high motive in such a reasoning. The Government says that it wants to reduce its deficit so it will provide these facilities no matter how many people may be introduced to drink for the first time. The Government does not care how many people get drunk before they board an aircraft. That is a sheer piece of materialism and cynicism that I did not expect to hear from a Minister introducing any bill in this Parliament.

I should like to mention one or two concluding points. We who travel a lot occasionally meet men who are inebriated when they board the aircraft. It will be a most agonizing experience for a passenger to be forced to sit next to such a person. We have all had that experience. It is an experience that one must go through in order to appreciate it fully. It would be like travelling on the " Princess of Tasmania " when a football team was aboard, as happened a few weeks ago. On that occasion passengers spent a restless night because the members of the football team spent the night banging doors and windows on board the vessel, causing chaos on that beautiful ship. That is what drink does whenever it is taken to excess. Take the case of a man who consumes a fair quantity of liquor at the cocktail bar at the airport before boarding the aircraft. In addition he may have had some liquor at his hotel before leaving for the airport. Suppose the trip is rough, as is very possible in the winter months in this country. That man may vomit during the trip. This is the kind of thing that actually happens. Consider how uncomfortable a passenger sitting next to such a man would feel. It is disgraceful to allow that sort of thing on an aircraft. The hostesses on that aircraft would have extra work to do cleaning up the mess, and we all know how hard hostesses work at present to provide meals for a full pay-load in the short time it takes to fly from Melbourne to Sydney, Mel.boure to Canberra, Launceston to Melbourne or Adelaide to Melbourne. Hostesses should not be exposed to extra work of that type.

For the reasons that I have enumerated, this clause should have been left out of the bill. If that had been done the bill would have been a reasonably good bill and would have had the approval of the Opposition. But we will not agree to provide more facilities for drink when at present there are so many facilities in Australia. The brewers control votes all over Australia. In some places there are one-armed bandits in clubs. The whole country is swamped with facilities for drink, and now this bill seeks to provide another facility at the one place where we thought we would not have to put up with it. I am sure that the brewers of Australia must be chuckling at the Government's proposal and looking forward to selling many more thousands of gallons of beer and spirits in the next few years. They are the only people who will really profit by this measure.







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