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Tuesday, 28 September 1971
Page: 1523


Mr CHARLES JONES (NEWCASTLE, VICTORIA) - I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. I ask: Has agreement been reached between the Department of Civil Aviation and the American Civil Aeronautics Board which gives Qantas Airways Ltd the right to land Boeing 747 jets in the United States of America and additional weekly flights for the United States airlines? Why did the Minister for Civil Aviation treat the Parliament with contempt by delaying his announcement of this important and contentious agreement until immediately after the Parliament had adjourned for the normal week's recess, even though the report had been in his possession for nearly 3 weeks? Can the Minister say what concessions were obtained by Qantas and what the American airline operators received? Can it truthfully be claimed that Qantas was completely and totally sold out by this Government?


Mr SWARTZ (DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND) (Minister for National Development) - The answer to the last part of the question is no. I suspect that the honourable member has some argument about the agreement which exists between the United States and Australia in this field. I take it from his comments that he is not happy about the existing agreement. The position is that the present agreement was entered into by the previous Labor government back in 1946. If the honourable member is unhappy about it, he knows the background to it. But the point is that since that date the administration of the agreement has worked out quite satisfactorily from our point of view.

I think that in some of the reports which have appeared in the Press recently a very vital fact has been overlooked; it has not been brought out, although it appeared in the joint statement which was issued by the American Government and the Minister for Civil Aviation on behalf of the Australian Government. It was that in future the control of arrangements regarding capacity on the Pacific route will be in the hands of the two governments, not in the hands of the airlines or the American Civil Aeronautics Board. This, I think, is a very important achievement. Any proposal by the airlines for listings must go to the civil aviation authority in the United States and to the Department of Civil Aviation in Australia. It must be considered by the two governments before it is finally approved.

As far as capacity is concerned, it is a fact that application was made on behalf of two United States airlines for additional capacity or additional services on the Pacific route. This application was made last February and agreement has now been reached. It will come into effect as from 1st December this year. Agreement has been reached for Qantas to be allowed to fly additional 747 services into and across the United States at the same time. I think that this again is an achievement. By then there will have been no change in capacity on the Pacific route for 18 months, and that in itself indicates the present situation. As I say, the change will not take place until 1st December. By that time there will have been an 18 per cent increase in the traffic on the Pacific route since the application for additional services on the Pacific route was made in February. We believe that the capacity which is to be provided from 1st December will meet the traffic requirement at that time.

As to the question regarding the time at which the announcement was made by the Minister for Civil Aviation, I understand he made it at the first opportunity after he had a chance to study the report and to discuss it with the Government. As soon as that was done he made a public announcement regarding the matter.







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