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Wednesday, 16 May 1973
Page: 2169

Mr SHERRY (FRANKLIN, TASMANIA) - My question is addressed to the Minister for Transport and Minister for Civil Aviation. Is it a fact that TransAustralia Airlines enjoys unfair competition in terms of access to capital and the money market? ls it also a fact that TAA is exempt from State and municipal taxes?

Mr CHARLES JONES (NEWCASTLE, VICTORIA) (Minister for Transport) - I have received telegrams - and I know that other honourable members also have received telegrams - from a company, which has a string of hotels, objecting to a proposal to grant to TransAustralia Airlines authority to operate hotels and motels. One of the arguments which have been advanced against the proposal is that TAA has a distinct advantage over other companies which have similar operations inasmuch as TAA pays no taxes or rates. This is not true. Honourable members should be aware of the fact that TAA pays company tax. It pays local government rates and State taxes wherever they apply to its operations in the same way as they apply to and are paid by the people who are objecting to TAA being given authority to operate hotels and motels.

Mr Donald Cameron (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) - Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. I seek clarification. Is it in order for a Minister to comment on a Bill which is on the notice paper and due to come up for debate in the next day or so?

Mr SPEAKER - I do not think the matter under discussion will come within the confines of the Bill that is now on the notice paper.

Mr Malcolm Fraser - I also raise a point of order. The matter about which the Minister has been asked comes within the confines of the Bill, as any plain reading of the Bill would show.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! An honourable member may seek information on a matter even if it is pertinent to something which is on the notice paper.

Mr CHARLES JONES - I have already outlined to honourable members the position as far as taxation is concerned. It has been suggested by the hotel people that TAA will not bc paying interest on the money which it borrows for the purpose of acquiring or building hotels. This again is not true because TAA does pay interest on money which it borrows. Even though the money came originally from the superannuation fund, TAA still pays interest on it. It is not my view that TAA will become a general hotel owneroperator in competition with every hotel owner in the land. All that we want is TAA to have a sufficient number of hotels as part of its business to assist it in the tourist expansion program which it is undertaking. It is most important to note that all that this will do is put TAA on a trading basis similar to Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. All that is proposed is what my predecessor Senator Cotton promised TAA, that is, that it would be permitted to operate hotels. That is part of a promise which was given by a former Prime Minister, the right honourable member for Lowe. So all that I am doing is implementing a Liberal Party promise. I think that if anyone objects to TAA operating on equal terms with ATI he is being most unreasonable. If the hotel people object to TAA operating hotels, why do they not likewise object to Ansett Transport Industries operating hotels? I think the complaints originated from that source.

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