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Friday, 8 May 1970

Mr SINCLAIR - No, I am not aware that there is confusion and resentment in relation to bookings for the Indian-Pacific rail service. As the honourable gentleman is aware, the name Indian-Pacific has been given to a train which operates a service east and west across Australia twice a week. Of course, many other trains also follow the same route linking different points between Sydney and the Fremantle terminal. Indeed, in terms of the operation of this route, the Indian-Pacific is intended to be basically an express service. It has been designed to provide the quickest possible form of rail transport between the 2 points. Certainly, the time it takes to complete the journey is not yet as short as many of us would like. However, I repeat that the Indian-Pacific is the name given to the express service across the continent.

I am not aware at this stage of the difficulties to which the honourable gentleman has referred in terms of pensioner concession rates. I have mentioned previously in the House that as from 1st April last pensioner concessions would be made avail able for travel on the Commonwealth section of the standard gauge line across Australia. The Commonwealth owns only part of the line on which the Indian-Pacific travels. The section to which the honourable gentleman referred in his question is the part which is operated by the Commonwealth Railways and it is the only part in respect of which Commonwealth concessions can be extended. Within each of the States of the Commonwealth different forms of assistance are provided to pensioners by the State governments through their own railway systems. It needs to be recognised that the State systems operate on a somewhat different basis from that of the Commonwealth system. The Commonwealth system is basically an interstate one and, consequently, it is perhaps more able to extend the type of concessions to which the honourable gentleman referred than are some of the State systems. However, the general question of the extension of pensioner concessions has been and is being discussed amongst the operators of the respective railway systems. Perhaps some extension of these concessions by the States may be expected in the future as a result of these discussions. They may be on the same basis as those which the Commonwealth now provides. Regarding details of train bookings, I will check the facilities and opportunities available for residents of Broken Hill and reply to the honourable member later.

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