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Thursday, 19 November 1936

Senator COLLINGS (Queensland) . - I feel somewhat diffident in stating the views of. the Opposition in this chamber on this measure, because, although we are in favour of the bill, certain honorable senators fervently declared that my speech on the Constitution Alteration (Marketing) Bill had influenced them to vote against it. When speaking on that bill, I expressed the opinion that the National Parliament should have full power; but that seemed to be a bogy which scared some honorable senators. I shall take the risk of repeating what I then said. I believe that, while the National Parliament is asking power to assume control over air navigation, it would be well advised to take its courage in both hands and seek power to control all means of transport.

Senator Hardy - The honorable senator's views on this measure are not endorsed by the members of the New South Wales Labour party.

Senator COLLINGS - Senator Hardy has been most disturbed over some alleged action by the New South Wales Labour party; a few days ago he was equally disturbed in connexion with some action of the Queensland Labour party. Just as I told him on that occasion that, the Federal Labour party had agreed to make the referendum on marketing a non-party question, so it has agreed to make this bill a non-party question. That is an example of how w>' can come together united in our disunity; I hope the example will be followed by the Country party which is so ably led in this chamber by Senator Hardy. We should like to hear honorable senators of that party speaking in this chamber with one voice, or differently, in terms of friendship, because of the non-party attitude which they adopt.

If there is one thing which ought, never to have been allowed to drift into the hands of private enterprise, it is the aviation industry. The Commonwealth Parliament should have stepped in so soon as aviation became a practical thing and, with the approval of the people, taken control of it. I am gratified that this bill has been introduced, and I have no doubt that it will be passed by the Senate. When it is placed before the public, I hope that, without much argument, a' majority of the people in a majority of the States will express their approval of it.

Queensland has probably more right than any other State to be cautious in granting power to the Commonwealth in respect of aviation. ' With an amazing area to be developed by a small population, Queensland has done more in connexion with civil aviation than has any other State of the Commonwealth.

Senator ALLAN MACDONALD (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - With the exception of Western Australia.

Senator COLLINGS - I admit that that State has done exceptionally well; T do not suggest that other States also have not done well; but I emphasize that Queensland has more justification than any other State for jealously watching the Commonwealth proposals in connexion with the control of aviation. I ask the Postmaster-General (Senator A. J. McLachlan) to inform the Sena.te of the extent of the collaboration, if any, which has taken place between the Stated and the Commonwealth in regard to this bill. Have they been directly consulted on the matter?


Senator COLLINGS - In Queensland we are justifiably proud of our flying medical services, which are being conducted in various parts of the State. Anybody who is familiar with the distant parts of Queensland, or for that matter, any other outlying portions of Australia, will appreciate very keenly the value of the medical flying service to the isolated settlers. While the Senate was in recess recently I took the opportunity to tour a large portion of the country served by flying doctors, including Cloncurry, Mount Isa, and other isolated parts. Honorable senators would probably be surprised at the intensity of the feeling of security which is engendered in outback settlers by the knowledge that in time of sickness they may appeal to the flying medical services. Probably many of those people will never require the aid of the flying doctors; but they have a wonderful sense of added security in the knowledge that, if an emergency should arise, the service will be at their disposal. The people of Queensland, however, are not nervous about surrendering the control of aviation to the Commonwealth. Although I do not agree politically with this Government on many major items of policy, I do not. believe that it would use any power given to it under the referendum for the purpose of interfering with the conduct of those services, and destroying their efficiency. I realize that it might suggest the introduction of greater safeguards, but who would offer any objection on that score? Not even the most confirmed States-righter! In Queensland a good deal of work has also been done in making aerial surveys, both, of tracts of land and mining areas. J hope that the functions of the business enterprise so engaged will not be interfered with when the Commonwealth authority takes supreme control; I am confident that no such interference will occur.

Senator E B Johnston - Mr. Forgan Smith seems a little nervous about it.

Senator COLLINGS - I have seen a report in the southern press of some utterances attributed to the Premier of Queensland; but I am not at all nervous about the matter. In fact, the remarks of that gentleman, if correctly reported, are the basis of my speech this afternoon, and I am sure that he does not fear the action that will be taken by the Commonwealth in this regard. With all its faults, the Government has a measure of common sense and justice in these matters; the Opposition is prepared to concede that much to it. I support this bill, and will oppose any amendments proposed to it, unless it can be clearly shown, without any involved arguments between dialecticians and legal luminaries, that such amendments will improve the bill, and add to the powers that the Commonwealth desires to obtain through the referendum. If an intelligent amendment be moved to restore to the Commonwealth some of the power which the language of the proposed alteration of the Constitution now being considered does not give, the Opposition will accord it intelligent consideration. I hope that the bill will be carried without too many and involved speeches.

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