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Wednesday, 9 March 1966

Mr IRWIN (Mitchell) .- I support the Bill, but I submit that, as this Parliament is approving the borrowing of this money, it should have some control over the choice of aircraft to be purchased. I take exception to the purchase of DC9 aircraft in preference to the BACIII. Seeing that the Commonwealth is acting as guarantor for this loan, which will be used, among other things, to purchase aircraft for TransAustralia Airlines, we should have had expert advice on the relative merits of the DC9 and the BACIII. My views on this subject are confirmed by the fact that the British Aircraft Corporation has firm overseas orders for 170 of the BACIII aircraft and has already exported 75 of them at a total cost of $A200 million. American domestic airlines have purchased 57 BACIII aircraft at a total cost of $A150 million. It is quite evident that the American domestic airlines have found that the BACIII, as an intermediate range aircraft to be used on routes between the cities in America, as it would be used between our capital cities, has certain advantages over the DC9. Although American domestic airlines have purchased 57 of these aircraft, the number would have been greater but for the financial restrictions which were introduced last year by President Johnson.

We, as the guarantors for the money involved in this measure, should have had some say in the type of aircraft to be purchased. There are many reasons why this Parliament should discuss and ascertain the reason why a certain aircraft is to be purchased. We have simply accepted the airline's request to borrow this money without having any say as to the type of aircraft to be purchased. I think that we should have appointed an expert select committee to advise us on this matter. I think that had we appointed such a committee we would have been advised to purchase the BACIII in preference to the DC9.

Mr. Deputy Speaker,my information is that a DC9 aircraft costs SA3.36 million as compared with SA2.6 million for the BACIII. My. informants have assured me that the BACl 1 1 compares favorably with the DC9 in all facets of air transport. The purchase of BACIII aircraft in preference to DC9 aircraft would have meant a saving of $760,000 on the purchase of each aircraft. I understand that Trans-Australia Airlines, had it purchased the BACIII, would have been able to trade in its Viscount aircraft.

Mr Peters - Is the BACl II an American aircraft?

Mr IRWIN - No, it is manufactured by the British Aircraft Corporation. It has been accepted by the American domestic airlines and it is the only aircraft that has certificates of airworthiness from both Great Britain and the United States of America. My informants have also told me that on the purchase of a number of BACIII aircraft in preference to DC9 aircraft, the terms and conditions would have reduced the overall cost, over and above the initial purchase price, by some $A6 million. I think that' as guarantors of the loan we should have gone into this matter very thoroughly. T.A.A. has the right to select its own aircraft, providing it is using its own money, but in this case, as we are the guarantors for the loan, I think that this Parliament should have received expert advice on the matter. On evidence that has been placed before me, I am convinced that the BACIII would have been recommended to this Parliament as being the better aircraft for service in Australia.

I make these remarks so that they may be considered before we are asked to approve a similar transaction in the future. We should have expert guidance in this matter, not only on the efficiency and desirability of the aircraft being purchased but also on the financial side of the transaction. I think that in the future we should be advised on these matters before we enter into such a transaction.

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