Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Friday, 12 September 1969

Mr SWARTZ (Darling Downs) (Minister for Civil Aviation) - 1 shall refer first to the last matter mentioned by the honourable member for Mitchell (Mr Irwin), which was referred to also by the honourable member for St George (Mr Bosman). The only thing I can say at this stage in relation to the Richmond Royal Australian Air Force base is that an interdepartmental committee is considering an area for the establishment of a new airport to service Sydney in the future. The suggestion that has been made will be referred to that committee, as will the comments made by the honourable member for Mitchell. I noted with pleasure the new advocacy of private enterprise on the part of the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) and his firm support for Ansett Transport Industries as a partner in the two airline policy. This was rather unusual on the part of the Opposition. We do appreciate even these small mercies when they come.

The honourable member for St George, and a couple of other speakers, quite rightly raised the question of noise, particularly as it applies to the situation at Sydney airport. This matter was raised because of an answer given by my colleague in another place yesterday in reply to a question. I understand that he elaborated upon the subject this morning and provided some information of a factual nature. I. would like to take this opportunity to re-affirm the intention of the Government in relation to this matter. I assure the honourable member for St George and other honourable members who are interested that the Government has no intention now, or in the foreseeable future, of amending the present restrictions which apply at certain of our major airports in Australia. Those restrictions apply because of the existing conditions. While those conditions continue in the future it is not the intention of the Government to change the restrictions. Australia is the one country which has applied these restrictions to this extent. No other country applies restrictions of this type so rigidly. This is a measure of the earnestness of my Department and this Government to meet the interests of the community.

I would like to elaborate a little further on what action the Government has taken to deal with this worldwide problem of aircraft noise. As the honourable member for St George said, Australia had the opportunity last year to attend the general assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organisation held in Buenos Aires. During the opening plenary session I was able to introduce, on behalf of Australia, a proposal for an annex to the ICAO convention to deal with the subject of aircraft noise for adoption by the general assembly. The proposal, discussed later in committee, was accepted and adopted unanimously by over 100 nations represented at the assembly. Australia took the initiative in this regard. Resulting from that action the first meeting of the ICAO committee to deal with this particular problem will be held in Montreal in October. We hope that emerging from that meeting some guidelines will be laid down on an international basis and will be standardised throughout the world. We will use these guidelines as the basis for legislation which will be introduced into this Parliament in the future.

In addition, as honourable members know, the House of Representatives did set up a select committee to investigate aircraft noise. Several members of that committee have been present during this debate. I pay a tribute to the committee members for the work they are doing. 1 understand the committee will present an interim report before the Parliament rises. We are looking forward to that report and to the final report because we are waiting on the information that the committee is now collating and the recommendations that it will be making. At the same time we are adopting procedures that are standardised throughout the world, but which have special application to our situation, to try to eliminate as far as possible the noise problem by procedural devices. In addition we use the system of a third runway where possible. This practice applies extensively at Sydney airport. Further, engine manufacturers throughout the world are conducting a tremendous amount of research into this aspect and in recent months there has been a major breakthrough whereby the new engines that will be operating in the Boeing 747 aircraft - the first of the jumbo jet type aircraft - will emit noise of about 15 decibels less than the noise from the engines fitted to the Boeing 707. This indicates that much work is being done in this particular field. We realise, of course, that this work is absolutely essential and Australia is determined to pursue it to the utmost. I conclude on this particular issue of noise by assuring the Committee that the Government has no intention now, or in the foreseeable future, while existing conditions apply, of altering the restrictions that apply to certain major Australian airports.

I apologise to the honourable members for the absence of the annual reports of my Department, Trans-Australia Airlines and Qantas Airways, to which the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) referred. The reason for this situation is that the debate has been brought forward this year because of the early election. The material for my annual! report has been in the hands of the Government Printer for some time but due to pressure of work it was not possible to get it here before the Estimates were debated. I understand that it will be available next week. I have also cleared the financial figures for the end of the financial year for TAA. The figures relating to Qantas should be cleared within the next 24 hours or so. Those reports should be available next week. Unfortunately, due to this early debate, they are not available now.

The honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart) raised a matter related to an individual. I had provided him with some information on a confidential basis in relation to this matter but as he has produced a further statutory declaration from the person concerned and has asked that the case be reviewed 'I will certainly see that this is done. I will communicate with him direct by correspondence as soon as possible.

The honourable .member for Braddon (Mr Davies) raised several matters about airport development on the north west coast of Tasmania. He asked for advice about the present position. I will not deal with the various matters that led up to his question but merely try to outline quickly what the position is there. Some time ago, as the honourable member will recall, I was with him and the honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie) in Tasmania and we discussed the matter with various councils. It was indicated at the time that we were going to maintain the airports at Devonport and Wynyard up to F27 standard and we were considering what the future developments would be. The position at both Devonport and Wynyard is that the airports are being maintained up to F27 standard at the moment. I indicated in this chamber fairly recently that it is intended at some time in the future - and we cannot yet indicate on a firm basis just when this will be - to upgrade the airport at Devonport to handle DC9 aircraft as an alternate for Launceston and Hobart. It is necessary to have an alternate airport somewhere in the vicinity for jet aircraft, so Devonport will be upgraded for alternate purposes only. Some time ago it was visualised that when jet aircraft for normal services commenced to operate in that part of Tasmania they would probably be of the DC9 type. Since then new intermediate types of jet aircraft have become available. Indeed we have one F28 which is to commence operations in Western Australia in the next few days. We have had experience of providing facilities for the F28. This is the type of aircraft we visualise replacing the F27 as a jet service to this part of Tasmania.

We have found that upgrading' an airport from F27 standard to cater for F28 aircraft is a minor requirement. The actual length of runway required is the same for both aircraft, so the F27 standard runway length at Wynyard and at Devonport if necessary can be used for the F28. AH that is needed at either of those airports, and certainly at Wynyard, is a strengthening of the runway and some additional aids, because an instrument landing system is required for jet operations. This is not a major or costly job. Fortunately we know the situation now. We did not know it 12 months ago or even 6 months ago. If and when the airline companies which are responsible for the introduction of services decide to introduce jet services to that part of Tasmania I can assure the Committee that the facilities will be provided. The runway length at Wynyard is adequate for the purpose and it is a relatively minor job to strengthen it and to provide the additional aids that are required. We are planning, as I have said, for the upgrading of Devonport not for regular jet services but as an alternate airport for Launceston and Hobart. Of course, the Devonport facilities could be used for jet services when they are introduced at some time in the future. I hope that that clarifies the situation for the honourable member for Braddon.

The honourable member for the' Northern Territory (Mr Calder) referred to the requirement of facilities for general aviation at Darwin and a number of additional facilities and services required at other places in the Territory. We will certainly be looking at all these aspects, but I point out to him that we have just completed a new hangar, which is being provided at a cost of over $300,000 to the Department of Civil Aviation, at Darwin for general aviation purposes. This is becoming available now and it will be utilised by the operators there. Some additional lond has been made available for operators to construct further buildings. I feel that this will overcome the problem to which the honourable member has referred. I remind the Committee that charter operators in the Northern Territory do have the advantage of restrictions that apply there whereby, because there are a limited number of operators, we do not allow other operators to come into the service. The charter operators have that protection and this applies to the Darwin Aero Club the same as it does to other charter operators.

The final point I want to touch on is the question of air safety that was referred to by the honourable member for Newcastle. There is no need to refer to the high standard of air safety that has been achieved in Australia, but I draw attention to the fact that the document he was quoting from is a public document which I provided to him and which is available to any honourable member or any member of the public who wishes to read it. One thing we do in Australia to maintain our high standard is to report not only accidents but also incidents. We are trying to convince all other countries, through ICAO, that they should do this too. We record every single accident that is reported. The major ones are recorded in the 'Safety Digest' and we have a record in the Department of every incident that is reported. From this record we are able to maintain this high standard. I think it is indicative of the standard that is being maintained in Australia that we do produce these documents and they are made available not only for our own records in Australia but also to every other country in the world.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.

Department of Works

Proposed expenditure $62,614,000.

Department of the Interior

Proposed expenditure $87,713,000.

Mr CALWELL(Melbourne) L4.30] - I wish to say something about the estimates for the Department of Works and the Department of the Interior. We hear in the Senate and in this place reference to tribalism among State parliamentarians. There is tribalism in every State Parliament in Australia. We must try to convince members of other Parliaments that this notion is greater than any held in a particular section of the community and what is happening in Canberra is of paramount importance to all Australians. I saw a reference yesterday by a junior Minister in the New South Wales State Government to Canberra as a country town. That reference dealt with the expenditure of funds in Canberra in building another hospital. I think that the Government is acting in a correct manner in building up the amenities of this great national capital. If we are not Australians first then we are nothing.

The display of tribalism by this junior Minister in the New South Wales State Government offended me because if it were not for what is happening here then all States in Australia would be at each other's throat on financial affairs and other matters and the nation would thereby suffer. I do not like to have to say this, but today State Parliaments are not much more than glorified shire councils, and their importance is diminishing all the time. If one looks at this from the point of view of air travel, Sydney and Melbourne are only outer suburbs of Canberra, but you cannot convince a lot of people who have vested interests in Sydney and Melbourne that this is so. I think that the Department of the Interior should hasten the transfer to Canberra of the headquarters of all Government departments, branches of Government departments and Government instrumentalities. Provision is made in the Broadcasting and Television Act for the transfer of the Australian Broadcasting Commission to Canberra, and that provision was inserted in the Act in 1940. The ABC made a token recognition of its responsibility to transfer to Canberra and it applied for a grant of land, but it has never come here and it does not want to come here.

I cannot imagine a government instrumentality being administered in the proper manner away from the national capital. I think the Reserve Bank of Australia should have its headquarters in Canberra. I think the Commonwealth Bank should have its headquarters here. The Commonwealth Treasury is here and I can see no reason why the headquarters of the two financial institutions associated with the Government should not also be brought here. There is a selfish motive in all these remarks expressed by those who want to make hit and run raids on Canberra and then go back to what they think is a better life in some capital city.

It is a long time since the first transfers were arranged of Government departments to Canberra. The first transfers made from Melbourne were effected in 1927 and it is only recently that the Royal Australian Mint was brought from Melbourne to Canberra and the mint in Perth was closed down. The transfer of all central Government offices to Canberra is long overdue. As far as I can see there is nothing wrong in what the Government is doing in developing Canberra and providing amenities for the people who are living here. One out of every five persons living in Canberra was not born in Australia, and those persons have a right to expect the same facilities in Canberra as are available in the State capitals. I have no objection to the criticisms offered by State Premiers or by others on the need to spend more money on hospitals, health and that sort of thing. We have to get around to this question of what more we can do to help State governments and local government to manage their affairs.

That is not the question at the moment. But there is a question concerning local government which is of major importance. That relates to the purchase by the Commonwealth Government of existing buildings in capital cities for the purpose of accommodating departments rather than building its own offices. In Melbourne the Department of Immigration was moved into a new building and as a result the City of Melbourne lost a tremendous amount in rates, and that should not happen. Some day, when the block in the Commonwealth Centre in Melbourne is completed, this Department and other departments for which the Department of the Interior is paying rent will be moved out and the areas freed will be available to private enterprise from which the municipalities can obtain rates and upon which they can levy rates, but under the Constitution no State government can levy rates on any Commonwealth instrumentality and it ought to be that way. On the other hand, I think that we ought to show our best endeavours to help the municipalities, particularly the big city municipalities, by erecting our own buildings as quickly as possible and by making an ex gratia payment, if that is possible, on a better scale than is done now, so that the municipalities and even the State governments can be helped in providing the facilities that are available.

This mixes up a question concerning the Department of the Interior with a question concerning the Department of Works. I have an idea - I have held it for a long time - that Sydney and Melbourne should be declared open cities and all defence installations should be moved out of them. I think that Ingleburn should be the headquarters of the Army in New South Wales. I think that this Government ought to sell the Victoria Barracks site to the New South Wales Government. I think that in Victoria Watsonia ought to be made the headquarters of the Army and that the Government should move out of Victoria Barracks in Melbourne and also vacate the land which it occupies at present, upon which it pays very good rent in Albert Park, and which it has held since the early days of World War 11. All of these questions are very important. It may be that the Government could appoint a select committee to examine them and make recommendations for consideration. What 1 say about Sydney and Melbourne is true also of Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and, I think, Hobart.

I was a member of a Cabinet subcommittee which purchased the two sites in Melbourne and Sydney. We were under a good deal of pressure to take other sites but I think the decision of the Chifley Government in regard to the purchase of these sites was a very good one. I would like to see them developed. What happened since the Chifley Government went out of office was that there was pressure by the Department of the Interior not to build in Currie Street, Adelaide, where a site was selected, nor in down town Hobart. Why no building of the same proportions as those which exist in other cities was erected in Adelaide, which is entitled to these facilities, 1 do not know. A building was not erected in Hobart because someone in the Department of the Interior said at the time that it was cheaper to rent a run-down building in Hobart than to erect a new building. In my view, this was not a good argument. I hope that the Minister will go over all these things again, I hope that he will turn over the files and get some advice on what ought to be done to erect good piles of Commonwealth buildings. It is most important that the people of Australia should see not only good piles of State buildings but also good piles of Commonwealth buildings. The Commonwealth should not be renting places all around the capita] cities when it could erect buildings which would be symbolic of the Commonwealth's strength and importance. I ask the Minister to consider the matter.

Mr McLEAY(Boothby) [4.4.1 j- I wish to discuss the estimates for the Department of the Interior and T am particularly pleased that the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) is in the chamber. I feel confident that he will be in the Parliament in that capacity for some time to come. I want to direct his attention and that of all honourable members to the report from the House of Representatives Select Committee on The Naming of Electoral Divisions. The Parliament will not debate the report in the current session. But at some time in the future some other Parliament and some other Minister will have to act on the recommendations of this Committee or on the recommendations of some other committee.

I want to refer to a couple of points that were made in the Committee's report. 1 do so particularly for the information of the Minister. I am not anxious to be unreasonably critical; but I am anxious to be critical. I believe that much more research should be undertaken before any finality is reached on the naming of electoral divisions and that a future Parliament and a future Minister should reconvene this Committee. I hope that I will perhaps have the opportunity to be a member of such a committee in a future Parliament. Some of the recommendations that the Committee put forward in my view were based on very superficial research. I agree with the Committee on many of its recommendations. I agree in particular that divisions should be named after former citizens who have rendered outstanding service to their country. I agree especially with the recommendation that divisions should be named after former Prime Ministers. It is interesting to note that seven Prime Ministers have come from New South Wales; eight from Victoria; three from Queensland; one from Western Australia; but none from South Australia or Tasmania. It is unlikely that we will have a Prime Minister from South Australia or Tasmania in the immediate future. Because we have had only 19 Prime Ministers it should not be difficult to perpetuate their memory ultimately right throughout Australia. In fact, I believe that the names of some Prime Ministers who are deceased should be used now. Prime Minister Lyons is a classic case.

However, T am concerned only with South Australia. I would like to remind the Minister for the Interior and the Government that at the general election in 1901, South Australia and Tasmania were each polled as one division and that the first election at which separate electorates appeared, at least in South Australia, was in 1903. The original seven electorate names in South Australia have been retained. They are Adelaide, Angas, Barker, Boothby, Grey, Hindmarsh and Wakefield. In my view the names of these electorates should be retained for all the reasons set out in the report, and a few others. It is true that Hindmarsh, which is mentioned in appendix F of the report, is a district name as well as the name of a division. But there will always be a large residential electorate west of the city of Adelaide. Simply because the location and the name of an electorate are generally regarded as synonomous I do not think that this should provide grounds for abandoning such a famous name. However, we may do something about changing the representation of this electorate.

My particular concern is the suggestion that the name 'Boothby' should be abolished. The division of Boothby appears on a list of names in appendix E of the report. This is the part of the report in which the Committee considers that more appropriate names could be found. Presumably the Committee felt that the Division was named after somebody who could not be regarded as a sufficiently important citizen.

Mr Erwin - Why not call it McLeay?

Suggest corrections