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Wednesday, 16 September 1936

Senator ARKINS (New South Wales) . - I agree with Senator Hardy and the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce), that government policy should not be directed to the establishment of a greater number of landing grounds but to the expenditure of a large capital sum on the resumption of areas in the large centres of population for the construction of aerodromes. I consider also, that, in view of the probable early developments in aviation, it would be wise to hasten slowly. The use of direction-finding apparatus for aeroplanes must revolutionize air navigation in the near future. [ understand that wireless beams from aerodromes ©quipped with modern appliances indicate on the dashboard in the pilot's cabin his precise position, and at the same time give to the beam stations concerned accurate knowledge of the plane's position thus enabling the pilot, in the event of any difficulty, and provided he has sufficient altitude, to make a safe landing, assuming, of course, that an emergency landing ground is within reasonable distance. Thus it would seem that, instead of spending huge sums on the erection of aerodromes throughout Australia, we should direct our attention to the preparation of emergency landing grounds along our main air routes at distances of not more than, say, 25 miles. It has also been suggested that, before many years have passed, it should be possible by utilizing some improved mechanical apparatus, for mails to be lifted by aeroplanes without the necessity for landing, thus ensuring greater speed. Actually this is being done even to-day in the United States of America. I read not long ago, that an American aeroplane, fully laden, took up three glider trailers, each carrying about five tons, transported them across the continent and dropped them at their appointed places. I understand that the glidertrailer is coming into general use in the United States of America, and I have no doubt that soon it will be adopted in other countries. All the evidence indicates that, just as the locomotive of to-day dwarfs the achievements of Stevenson's " Rocket " so, in the near future will monster machines of the air dwarf the accomplishments of the aeroplane df to-day. Thus before incurring enormous expenditure on the construction of aerodromes, we should do well to lay solidly the foundations of our air policy by watching closely the developments in other countries, which in aviation matters are more advanced than Australia. I feel sure that by means of the trailer system, it will one day be possible to transport large numbers of passengers and considerable quantities of merchandise to places in the continent which, but for the aeroplane, would continue, in fact, to be remote from civilization. My suggestion may, to some, appear to be fantastic; but I assure the Senate that these things are being done to-day in the United States of America. By reason of its vast distances, Australia lends itself to the development of aviation. Already we have done much in this direction, and we have to pay a high compliment, not only to the companies which pioneered air services in Australia, but also to the large number of famous pilots - air navigators second to none - who have clone so much to promote aviation in Australia and the world generally. Recently, when I was in Nor- thern Queensland, where distances are being annihilated by the aeroplane, I was astounded to find that the majority of the people with whom I came in contact were definitely air-minded. In that part of the northern State they think nothing of travelling 150 miles or 200 miles by air to places which, but for the aeroplane, would mean a journey of many hours, and in some cases days, by motor car or train. It is reassuring to know that people of this country are becoming so keenly interested in aviation, which, I feel sure, is destined to solve some of our major transport problems.

Proposed vote agreed to.

Proposed votes- Department of Trade and Customs, £104,930; Department of Health, £22,270 - agreed to.

Department of Commerce.

Proposed vote,£71,530.

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