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Tuesday, 2 May 1961

Mr HAROLD HOLT (Higgins) (Treasurer) . - I move -

That the bill be now read a second time.

The purpose of this bill is to obtain parliamentary authority for additional expenditure in 1960-61 on certain items of Capital Works and Services. Additional appropriations totalling £2,955,000 are sought. However, as a result of savings on other items it is expected that the total expenditure on Capital Works and Services will not exceed the Budget estimate of £139,921.000.

An additional sum of £1,680,000 is sought for the additional capital requirements of Qantas Empire Airways Limited and Trans-Australia Airlines. For the former, £1,650,000 is provided, and for the latter, £30,000. In the case of Qantas, the funds are needed to enable agreed progress payments to be made against the purchase of three new Boeing 707-1 38b aircraft and the conversion of the existing fleet of seven Boeings to turbofan operation. This project, which is costing more than £18,000,000, was approved early in 1960 on the basis that some 75 per cent. would be covered by a dollar loan, as has been the case with other recent purchases of aircraft by Qantas.

Subsequently, a loan of 30,000,000 dollars was arranged through the United States Export-Import Bank. The terms of this loan, which were approved by the Loan (Qantas Empire Airways Limited) Act 1960, assented to on 9th December, 1960, include a provision requiring the borrower to meet the first 20 per cent. of all expenditure on the project. Although this requirement was known at the time of the 1960-61 Budget, precise details were not then available of the incidence of payments during 1960-61 to the many suppliers involved, or of the extent to which the loan moneys would be drawn by 30th June, 1961. On such information as was available it was anticipated that other resources accessible to Qantas, including local loans, would be sufficient to cover the temporary lag in loan drawings to the end of the year. However, later information showed that the lag would be somewhat larger than originally thought, and that other Qantas resources would fall considerably short of estimates. These two factors have combined to produce the requirement of extra funds of £1,650,000 as at 30th June, 1961.

It will be noted that £500,000 of the £1,650,000 is to be provided as an advance, which it is intended should be repaid during 1961-62, the balance of £1,150,000 being in the form of permanent capital for which shares will be issued.

Mr Crean - Does that mean that those shares will be issued to the public?

Mr HAROLD HOLT -I do not think so. I will check that. The provision of £1,100,000 in the 1960-61 Budget for Trans-Australia Airways, included £600,000 to allow payment to Qantas for its New Guinea assets transferred during the year to Trans-Australia Airways. This amount was insufficient by £100,000 to meet the subsequently agreed transfer figure, but it has now been ascertained that the domestic airline can meet a substantial part of this excess from its existing provision and that its need for extra funds reduces to £30,000, the amount now sought.

An amount of £393,000 is included for the Department of Civil Aviation mainly for further acquisitions of land for the development of the Tullamarine airport. A further £1 15,000 is sought for the Australian National University to make good fire damage in the Cockroft Building of the Research School of Physical Sciences and for additional equipment and furnishings. It has been found that, due to an increasing volume and higher cost of stores, an additional working advance is necessary for the operations of the Commonwealth Stores Suspense Trust Account and £120,000 is included for this purpose. For the Department of the Interior, £60,650 is included for the purchase of homes vacated by officers transferred from Melbourne to Canberra in the movement of the Defence Departments. An increase in the average number of migrants occupying migrant hostels has made it necessary for Commonwealth Hostels Limited to purchase additional furniture and equipment, and £53,000 is included for this purpose.

Under the heading Business Undertakings, an amount of £135,000 is sought for miscellaneous plant and equipment for the PostmasterGeneral's Department. This results from an adjustment of the Post Office works programme and will be offset by equivalent savings in the other items of the Post Office capital works vote.

The sum of £35,000 is included under " Broadcasting and Television Services " for buildings, works, fittings and furniture for television transmission, arising from the Government's decision to extend television to provincial and country areas.

A better rate of progress on the construction of water supplies, roads and stock routes in the Northern Territory results in an additional provision being sought of £69,000.

As a result of the decision of the Government to form a company to operate the Canberra brickworks, a working capital advance of £65,000 is sought for Canberra Brickworks (Canberra) Limited. The previous operations of the brickworks were financed through the Australian Capital Territory Brickworks Trust Account. I commend the bill to honorable members.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Crean) adjourned.

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