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Tuesday, 16 November 1976
Page: 2727

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! There is no substance in the point of order. It is a matter of debate.

Mr Yates - I rise to another point of order. With respect, I heard what he said. It was a personal reflection.

Mr Charles Jones - You were not even in the chamber.

Mr Yates - I heard it.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member for Newcastle is not helping the situation in any way. I point out to the honourable member for Holt that the remarks that he is making do not establish a point of order. If there had been a personal attack upon the Minister in the sense of being unparliamentary, it would have been the responsibility of the Chair to draw attention to that personal attack. If the honourable member for Holt studies the speech of the honourable member for Newcastle he will find that, no matter what comment he may wish to make upon that speech, there was no personal reflection or attack upon the Minister for Transport. I suggest to the honourable member for Holt that there is no substance in the point of order.

Mr BAILLIEU - Irrespective of whether or not there was substance in the point of order, the fact of the matter is that the remarks of the honourable member for Newcastle were particularly inopportune and, I think, a little cowardly in the sense that the Minister for Transport, who has very considerable responsibilities in this Government, is, as the former Minister for Transport would understand, preoccupied with a matter of very considerable moment which in fact affects the jobs of a great many Australians. I think that the honourable member for Newcastle might have been just a little more charitable in that respect. I also acknowledge the fact that the honourable member for Newcastle was trying to put a little more colour into the debate, which is of a type that is, as I have said, characteristically somewhat dull. It is just a little unfortunate that once or twice the honourable member for Newcastle digressed to the extent of making some remarks for which, upon reflection after reading Hansard tomorrow, he may feel slightly regretful.

I am upset to some extent that the honourable member for Newcastle and the honourable member for Shortland (Mr Morris) saw fit to attack Qantas in quite the terms that they used. I think that the Government would like to acknowledge the fact that Australia is proud of her international airline. This Government is determined to ensure that Qantas goes from strength to strength. Qantas is providing a remarkably good international air service against overwhelming competition from countries which give a great deal more support to their national airlines. It also should be recognised that the safety record and the service record of Qantas are beyond reproach. I think that the Parliament should recognise those facts every now and then. I was disturbed that members of the Opposition could not bring themselves to make such an acknowledgement during the course of their remarks.

There are 2 matters I want to deal with very briefly. The first concerns the on-going debate as to where the international flights into Australia should land. It is unfortunate that the Opposition took the opportunity this afternoon during question time to try to highlight the difference between Sydney and Melbourne in respect of overseas flights. I do not want to be too parochial about this matter, but Melbourne does offer facilities for international air traffic that are absolutely second to none. I do not think there is any doubt about that. The constraints on Sydney are very considerable in this respect. I often see honourable members on both sides of the Parliament expressing in this chamber to the Minister and the Government in the form of questions and in other ways their anxiety about the nuisance, the noise and associated problems of air traffic coming into Sydney Airport. It should be acknowledged that no such restrictions apply in Melbourne which has an international airport that is second to none. It was designed to be out of the urban areas where the disturbance to people, particularly residents, is absolutely minimal.

I can see absolutely no reason why international airlines should not do the obvious thing and take their aircraft into Melbourne Airport.

That would bring many visitors to Victoria- the garden State. I would venture to say that many of those overseas visitors could do little better than to spend some of their time in Australia looking at the Dandenongs which are in the garden electorate of La Trobe. One can see so much of Australia in such a short time by looking at the beautiful Dandenongs and the Yarra valley. I strongly commend that to the Minister and the Government as a particular justification for Melbourne getting special attention with respect to overseas air traffic.

Leaving the subject of Qantas for the moment, I want to make a couple of comments about the Airline Equipment (Loan Guarantee) Bill. Once again, and characteristically, the honourable member for Newcastle launched another broadside at the operations of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. He has been well known for doing that over a considerable period in this Parliament. I do not want to set myself up here as a defender of the Ansett operations but I do want to draw attention to a couple of clauses of the Bill that I think this House should at least refer to before voting on it. I recognise the fact that the Treasury looks after the national interest very well in respect of guarantees which the Government undertakes on behalf of a commission, corporation, public company or anything else. It is clear that the Government has a very clear responsibility to see that the repayments are met and that the creditability is in no way violated. But I do question certain clauses in the Bill.

For instance, clause 5 (d) (i) allows officers of the Australian Public Service to have full access at all times to the financial accounts of Ansett Transport Industries and, to be brief, associated companies. In addition, it gives the Public Service access to other operations in which Ansett has a majority interest. As I remarked when I started, I am not going in to bat for, defend or promote Ansett Transport Industries. I simply want to say that when legislation like this comes before the House honourable members should look at what is implied in the provisions and take full account of them. In this legislation we are authorising the Treasurer or his officers to look into the details of the financial records of Ansett or its associated companies which is, I think, a privilege we should not take lightly. Whilst I will be supporting the Bill- obviously the Government does so- I think it is important to place on record that I believe that certain of the provisions of the Bill require looking at and reviewing. I hope that before similar legislation comes before the Parliament again this review will be done and that we will see such legislation in a somewhat different form.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

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