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Friday, 10 December 1965

Mr FAIRBAIRN (Farrer) (Minister for National Development) . - I will see that the representations made during this debate are brought to the attention of my colleagues, the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) and the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth). I want to correct briefly an allegation made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). He said it was possible to include costs other than air travel costs when calculating the fares to be charged by the airline companies. We know that this is completely inaccurate. It would be quite impossible, for example, for the cost of developing a television station to be added in when calculating reasonable air fares, because Ansett-A.N.A. is an entity complete in itself. When it makes a profit, of course, it pays the profit into the accounts of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd., but it is a completely separate entity and its fares are set by the Minister after considering the costs that have to be faced by the airline companies.

Another allegation was made that these increased fares were forced on TransAustralia Airlines. This, of course, was not so. Trans-Australia Airlines and Ansett-A.N.A. made a joint submission to the Government asking that fares be increased and the Government agreed to this because it realised that since the last fare increase there have been two major increases in costs. One of them was increased air navigation charges, which we are now debating, and which increased the costs of the two airlines by £621,000. The other was the increased fuel tax which cost the two airline companies £700,000. There have been other minor increases. I think there was a slight wage increase of about i per cent.

Mr Clyde Cameron - Did they each put forward the same proposal for an increase?

Mr FAIRBAIRN - They put forward a joint request to the Government asking that fares be increased. In fact if it had not been for the fare increase T.A.A. would have been showing either a marginal profit or a marginal loss. I just want to make it clear that there is no ground for saying that in any circumstances the cost of developing a television station could have any influence on the level of air fares.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

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