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Thursday, 19 November 1936

Senator ARKINS (New South Wales) . - Senator Brown attempted to excuse the attitude adopted by the members of the Labour party in New South Wales.

Senator Brown - I did not attempt to excuse them; I endeavoured to express their view on an important subject.

Senator ARKINS - Is the honorable senator their mouthpiece?

Senator Brown - I am not; 1 endeavoured to show where they might be wrong.

Senator ARKINS - I am pleased to have a further interpretation of the honorable senator's remarks. I would be sorry to think that all the wisdom of the Labour pary is confined to honorable senators representing Queensland, whose views are diametrically opposed to those of their colleagues in New South Wales. Notwithstanding the fact that Senator Brown says that the policy of the Labour party is not influenced by State boundaries, he cannot mention one representative of the Labour party in New South Wales who has had the courage to say thai the Constitution should be altered to give the Commonwealth power over aviation.

Senator Brown - Some say that it should not have the power.

Senator ARKINS - I cannot understand why they should adopt such an unusual attitude when Senator Guthrie was asked by Senator Brown if he thought that the Commonwealth should have power over all means of transport, he replied that he would not have any pronounced objections. I am not in favour of the Commonwealth having the power to control all means of transport, including for instance, our tramway systems in the capital cities.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - I ask the honorable senator to confine his remarks to the subject matter of the bill, which provides for an alteration of the Constitution with respect to aviation and aircraft. The bill has nothing whatever to do with tramway systems, and if the honorable senator proceeds to discuss that subject, he will be out of order.

Senator ARKINS - I was merely replying to certain statements made by other honorable senators.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - They were disorderly and should be disregarded.

Senator ARKINS - The proposal to give the Commonwealth control over aviation and aircraft is of paramount importance to the Australian poop" p. I do not believe that any important section of the people believes that all forms of transport, with the possible exception of our railway systems, should not be under Commonwealth control. I support the views of Senator Hardy, who contends that it is a mistaken policy to allow the military authorities to exercise that control over aviation. Great Britain has to a large extent allowed the military authorities to control aviation, but the position in the United States of

America is totally different. We have heard on numerous occasions thai the aeroplanes and the air services in the United States of America are more modern and consequently more efficient than those in Great Britain, i have no objection to the methods adopted by the Defence Department, but many of its officers have a somewhat limited outlook, particularly in respect of the possibilities of commercial aviation, which is closely associated with the problem of transport. Many authorities having stated that the flying conditions in this country are superior to those to be found elsewhere, Australia will perhaps benefit more from air transport than will any other country. During a recent visit to Queensland I gained the impression that the residents of that State are more air-minded than are those in other States. That may be due to the fact that in such a large State, where the means of transport are limited, aeroplanes have to be used more extensively than in other States. Senator Brown should realize that aviation services are extending their activities very rapidly, and aviation generally is being brought under the notice of practically every Australian citizen. Notwithstanding the opinions expressed by those in control of the New South Wales Railways, we cannot overlook the fact that there is a marked difference between the possibilities of transport by air and by rail. The railways operate only over rigid systems which have been established at great cost, whereas air services can meet the requirements of persons at every point where landing-grounds are available.

Senator Brown - If the people were risked, by means of a referendum, to an Drove of the Commonwealth being given control over the railways, would the honorable senator support such a proposal ?

Senator ARKINS - No, because I do not think that such a proposal would be in the interests of the Australian people. It is imperative that a majority of the States should support this proposed alteration of the Constitution, and I trust that the members of the Labour party in New South Wales will reverse the decision they have announced - a decision which I am sure has been arrived at for merely political reasons.

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