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Thursday, 26 November 1959

Mr Ward d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

1.   Has it been the practice to grant Commonwealth public servants an extra day's leave during the Christmas holiday period as a form of compensation for a bank holiday on which they are obliged to work?

2.   Is this practice to be departed from this year, and will no leave be given to public servants in lieu of the bank holiday?

3.   If so, will he state why this action has been taken?

4.   Will he have the matter reviewed immediately with a view to the decision being reversed?

Mr Menzies - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: -

1.   There has been no departure from the practiceof the Public Service Board to authorize, under section 76(3) of the Public Service Act, an extra holiday during the Christmas-New Year holiday period for Commonwealth public servants.

2.   An extra holiday has been authorized by the board on Monday 28th December, 1959. The statutory holidays during this period are -

Friday, 25 December 1959

Saturday, 26th December, 1959.

Friday, 1st January, 1960. 3 and 4. See 1 and 2 above.

Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport.

Mr Townley y. - On 11th November, 1959, the honorable member for KingsfordSmith (Mr. Curtin) asked the following question, without notice -

My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. Is it a fact that hostesses on Trans-Australian Airlines aircraft have been directed to canvass passengers for engagements for a private hire-car company operating at Kingsford-Smith Airport in Sydney? If so, does the Minister agree that this is an added duty imposed on the already overworked and under-paid hostesses, and will he take steps to see that this favourable treatment to this private hirecar company is discontinued? Is it also a fact that two-way radio from aircraft to terminal is used to complete the engagement of hire-cars by passengers, thus placing an additional strain on the radio operators? Will the Minister take steps to clean up this racket at Mascot and require private hire-cars to ply for hire on equal terms with taxi-cabs, which are operated mostly by exservicemen? Also, will the Minister take steps to see that the approaches to the terminal are kept clear for passengers and travellers and not cluttered up by private hire-cars?

The Minister for Civil Aviation has furnished the following reply: -

The frequency with which the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith raises this particular issue is, of course, a matter of record as are my assurances with regard to the propriety of the actions of the Department of Civil Aviation in the matter. However, it seems that I must again attempt to convey to him the true situation with respect to the hire-car operations at the Sydney Airport.

Firstly, action by airline hostesses in endeavouring to satisfy the needs ot the travelling public for ground transportation, is in accordance with the best traditions of service of our Australian airline system.I would, however, correct the honorable member in his choice of terms and state that this type of personal service cannot justly be referred to as " canvassing ". Any suggestion that air hostesses are required to channel business to the hire-car concession at Sydney Airport is entirely unfounded.

Further, I can assure the honorable member that in no instance is the two-way radio from aircraft to Air Traffic Control used in connexion with the hire-car service or for any other type of non-operational purpose. With regard to the mistaken belief that hire-cars are making inroads into taxi-cab business at Sydney Aiport may I say that, due to the spasmodic nature of business, it is extremely difficult to ensure that an adequate number of taxis are available on the airport at all times. In fact, it was with this difficulty in mind that steps were taken to place some form of ground transportation service, in this case a hirecar service, under firm contract at the airport to ensure the constant availability of cars to meet the needs of the travelling public. I can assure the honorable member that if the hire-car service were withdrawn from the airport the effect on the availability of taxi-cabs would be negligible, and the travelling public would be severely inconvenienced.

There is no question of inequality of treatment of hire-carsand taxis at the Sydney Airport, excepting perhaps that the hire-car operator is obliged to pay a concession fee for his facilities and the taxi operators do not.

Finally, I am not aware that approaches to the terminal buildings are being "cluttered up by hire-cars ". I do know that hire-cars and taxis are both allocated ranks on the opposite side of the road to the Ansett-A.N.A. and T.A.A. passenger terminals.

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