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Friday, 12 September 1969

Mr IRWIN (Mitchell) - I rise to commend the Department of Civil Aviation. I listened to what the honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart) said and I admit that the representations he made on behalf of that former employee of Trans-Australia Airlines were quite justified. However, to spend the entire 15 minutes at his disposal in referring to this matter is to extend things a little too much. It was admirable of him to do so but I think we could have looked for a better exposition from him in this debate. Upon looking through last year's debate on the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation I found that the Opposition made a great song and dance about Towra Point. Very definite statements were made about the Cabinet having approved the Towra Point airport project, that the land had been purchased and that Sydney's second airport was to be established there. We find that that is not so and that there has been no decision as to a site for a second airport.

Of all the government departments 1 think that the Department of Civil Aviation is the one that we look to for efficiency of the highest standard. Compared with other forms of transport air transport is young but it is growing faster than any other transport industry because of the technical and scientific approach that must be applied. We commend the Department of Civil Aviation on its work. When one considers that $3,900,000 is being expended on meteorological services, primarily to ensure the safety of aircraft, one appreciates the great value this must be to the airline operators. Although airport charges to commercial operators in Australia are substantial the amount paid would not be sufficient to cover the cost of the services provided by the Department of Civil Aviation.

The Department cannot, of course, influence the companies in respect of the types of aircraft they purchase. We have been told that the Department's duty is to see that the aeroplanes operating in Australia are airworthy and measure up to the Department's requirements, but one would think that the airlines, in deciding what planes they would purchase, would give some consideration to the British aircraft industry which has been experiencing a difficult time. J have in mind the BACIII, the extended version of which would be equal to and perhaps better than the DC9. I am supported in this opinion by the large number of BAC111s the American domestic airlines agreed to purchase. They had purchased about forty of these aircraft when the export ban on money from the United States of America caused the cancellation of a greater number of these aircraft for the domestic airlines of America. I mention this because I believe that at that time we should have maintained our import duty policy in respect of the DC9 aircraft. My memory is that the altitude that was adopted here was that the extended version of the BACIII was only on the drawing board when orders were placed for the DC9s. When I rang the British Overseas Aircraft Corporation for information, true to

British standards I was told that the Corporation had lost orders for the supply of these aircraft but that it did not want to complain. It looked to the future when it would be able to supply aircraft. This wonderful aircraft came to Australia and I had great pleasure in flying in it. Although comparisons are odious I believe that it would have suited our internal airlines far better than the DC9. It is not well known that during the early stages of the development of the BACIII difficulties were experienced and three senior test pilots lost their lives. But again the British revealed their great worth and when they made a historic discovery in the field of aerodynamics they made their findings available to the world. This discovery has been of great advantage to the aircraft industry.

This morning we saw and heard a tirade about the use of Mascot airport for 24 hours a day. I think the situation has been blown up out of all proportion. I have read the questions and answers in the Senate and I have no doubt that the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz), the Cabinet and the Government have considered this matter. Forthright statements have been made similar to those that were made about Towra Point. The present curfew at Mascot will continue and rightly so. I suppose that the great majority of the people who live in the area and who are annoyed by aircraft noise will never travel by plane, but it is the Government's desire and responsibility to ensure that a person shall be able to live in his home with a minimum of hindrance and annoyance from public transport. I am sure that the Minister, his Department and the Government are doing everything possible to preserve this situation and to alleviate this nuisance. I congratulate the Minister on his handling of his Department. It is a challenging portfolio. He is responsible for ensuring the development of air facilities in country areas. I suppose that Australians are the most air minded people in the world and it is due to the tenacity and carefulness of the Department of Civil Aviation that Australia has such a wonderful record in the aviation field.

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