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Monday, 15 October 1973
Page: 2075

Mr KATTER (Kennedy) - Like the honourable member for Corangamite (Mr Street) and the honourable member for North Sydney (Mr Graham), I do not have very much to say on this matter. I commend the Bill and certainly give it my support. I do so as one who lived in Cloncurry, th ; town where the civil aviation of this nation was born. I have to be very careful on this subject because I represent an electorate which is very much involved in the concept of Qantas Airways Limited. Qantas was conceived in Cloncurry, born at Winton, and spent its adolescence at Longreach. Because Qantas was born in the area which I represent I should like to make one or two observations. First of all I wish to pay a very sincere and profound tribute to the Department of Civil Aviation. I think it is acknowledged - that is perhaps more important than being recognised - throughout the world as setting a standard which I do not think any other country has exceeded and probably has not equalled. I should like to place on record my appreciation of the Department of Civil Aviation. Our overseas and international airline, Qantas, emanated from this country and at one time it was an Australian domestic airline.

I wish to refer to one or two matters which perhaps may not be considered to be terribly important. We were told recently, through the Press and by a splendid report, that one of the factors contributing to Qantas being much more viable now than it was last year - the year before its operations were rather shaky, too - is the reduction of fares. One may perhaps say: 'What has this to do with the International Civil Aviation Organisation?' It has quite a lot to do with it. The standard set by this specialised brach of the United Nations always involves additional expenditure within a nation and draws perhaps a little more on the moneys which are available. The point I wish to make is that if a reasonable fare is set greater profits will be made. I say that as one who is closely associated with the economics of our own domestic airlines. You, Mr Deputy Speaker, come from a State similar to my own and will appreciate that people who are required to travel by air over much greater distances are underprivileged and are very much hit when it comes to paying air fares. Wc cannot impress on the 2 domestic airlines that they should introduce economy class fares on all their air routes. They will not do it. Why do the 2 domestic airlines not follow the example given by Qantas? Qantas has shown considerable profits because it has seen the advisability of making available fares which come within the scope of ordinary people.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation is a specialised agency of the United Nations. I think one of the great advantages of these various specialised agencies of the United Nations which apply particularly where the lives of tens of hundreds of thousands of people are involved each day is the obvious advantage of having a uniform body which co-ordinates, examines and discusses the standards which set air navigation throughout the world. I think that agency sets a very great examaple. I wish to refer again to Qantas, which after all, is what this Bill is mainly about. We have only one overseas airline, Qantas. I wish to draw to the attention of the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Charles Jones) the use of stewards by Qantas. I am sure he would agree with me on this matter. When 1 was serving on our coalition parties' committee on civil aviation we had discussions with Captain Ritchie. I did not see eye to eye with him on this matter of stewards, just as I did not see eye to eye with him on a few other matters. Captain Ritchie claimed that there was an advantage in having stewards in the case of emergencies. May I respectfully submit that there are not many emergencies where stewards can do very much when it comes to the final crunch. I use the word 'crunch' advisedly. I see a tremendous advantage in having air hostesses. Honourable members should not get me wrong. Probably one of the most popular airlines -

Mr Charles Jones - Do you think they might lead the hi-jackers astray?

Mr KATTER - Well, perhaps their interest could be distracted. The point I wish to draw to the Minister's attention is that probably Thai Airway International is one of the most popular airlines. It is one which carries communities of men. When I was doing the traps going over to the United Nations, everywhere I went, until I reached Rome, people were talking about Thai Airways International. That airline does not conform with other airlines but has its own rules and regulations, which were pretty wonderful. The airline had air hostesses who had a particular aura, glamour and appeal.

Australia has a certain image - I do not want to dwell too much on that - but I do think that image has been reduced somewhat over the years. The stewards do a wonderful job - I do not wish to put anyone on the wrong track about that- but the appeal that fellows look for on an airline is not there. It may appear to be a very small thing, but I think it is high time that Qantas began replacing its stewards with hostesses. There is plenty of other work available for the stewards in the framework of this huge organisation. The Bill seeks to increase the membership of the Air Navigation Commission from 12 to 15. I Commend the Bill and give it my support.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

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