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Tuesday, 6 December 1960


Mr DUTHIE (Wilmot) (3:27 AM) .I hope that the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), who is at the table, will do us the courtesy of making a short reply at the close of this debate and tell us why the Government decided to go to the United States of America for more aircraft for TransAustralia Airlines. Why did the Government decide to by-pass the Viscount, which undoubtedly is the best aircraft in the world to-day? We are astounded to find that after the experience with the Electras, so ably outlined by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), the Government has persisted in encouraging T.A.A. to purchase these aircraft. What is the advantage of the Electras anyway? We have all flown in them. So far as I can see it is a matter of false economies. The Electra is a 65-passenger aircraft normally, and it can take up to 70 passengers. The Viscount is a 52-passenger aircraft. The airlines say that they can take thirteen more passengers with a full load in the Electras, which also travel faster. The engineers of Ansett-A.N.A. and T.A.A. can tell you of the trouble that they have had in keeping the Electras in the air. I shall be amazed if T.A.A. made this decision off its own bat and decided to get more Electras.

The performance of the Viscounts has been outstanding in Australia and in every other country where they have operated. It would have been cheaper, tidier and more businesslike to have gone to England to get more Viscounts. I do not know how finance could have been arranged, but the

Government could have been an intermediary. If the Government is allpowerful, as it says it is, it could have arranged the necessary finance in England for the purchase of Viscounts on much the same conditions as this purchase. Had it done so, it would have had, without doubt, the blessing of the Opposition. As matters stand, we agree to the bill only because in the overall picture it would be detrimental to T.A.A. if we did anything to upset the agreement that has been signed as a result of negotiations. We are only ratifying something that has been done.

I should like the Treasurer to tell us why T.A.A. had to go to America for Electra aircraft and why the Government came in on such a proposition, knowing full well that these aircraft have not been 100 per cent, satisfactory. I will not be a scaremonger, because from time to time we will be flying in Electra aircraft. As the honorable member for Lalor said, we must face the facts, which undoubtedly favour the Viscount. Members of the Opposition, in our party room, have expressed the view that it is a tragedy that T.A.A. even entered the field with Electra aircraft and that it did not build up its fleet entirely of Viscounts, even though these aircraft carry fewer passengers than the Electra. We approve the measure, but very reluctantly.







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