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Tuesday, 29 March 1966

Mr HAROLD HOLT - The general principle applying to V.I.P. aircraft is not that they are merely a means of transport; they are to be viewed as a means of carrying out more effectively the Government of this country. Australia is a very vast country and it is important that members of the Government should be able to visit as many parts of Australia for official purposes as it is practicable for them so to do. I do not think any honorable member would suggest that as members, particularly of the Cabinet, in travelling by air at least 1,000 miles a week we are flying for fun. We fly on the business of this country and the V.I.P. service is to enable us to do that more effectively. Usually Ministers are accompanied by members of their staff. It frequently happens that Ministers are able to employ usefully the hour or two of travelling time in carrying on the work which otherwise would be performed in their office.

When Ministers travel together opportunities are created for the sort of discussion which is helpful to the conduct of the departments of the Ministers concerned. When I travel in one of these aircraft it becomes a travelling office and most people on the aircraft are quite busily engaged on the public service of the country. I am" not aware of the circumstances in which my colleague the Minister for Air made the aircraft available for members of the Government parties' defence committee. I assume from the fact that they were visiting Williamtown that it was on an inspection associated with the work of that committee. But generally speaking the aircraft are to be reserved for the use of the Governor-General, for senior members of the Government and other Ministers when they are engaged on the official business of this country.

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