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Thursday, 15 October 1964

Senator O'BYRNE (Tasmania) .- The Senate has been treated to a display of megalomaniacal histrionics that has never been equalled here before. We have heard both Senator Sir William Spooner and Senator Wright speaking about obsessions. Senator Wright went so far as to speak of a paranoiac obsession. When I heard that ersatz tremolo in his voice I knew his case was weak. He has cultivated that manner over the years in an effort to bluff those people who perhaps were not awake up to him. But I am awake up to him tonight. He has shown his true form tonight because he has performed a complete somersault. He has always claimed to be a State righter. If he had been on this side of the chamber tonight he would have pulled every trick out of the bag to defend the rights of the States. But all this will keep. It is on record. We have seen a complete metamorphosis of megalomaniacal histrionics. Senator Wright referred to a Gilbertian situation. If ever I have seen a Pooh-Bah or a Koko-nut, I have seen one tonight.

Senator Wrightpurposely manoeuvred his position on the speaking list tonight so that he could attack his legal peers on this side and they would not be able to answer him. I should like to quote what was said by one of his colleagues in the Country Party. The Deputy Leader of the New South Wales Country Party is on record as saying that the form in which the Commonwealth introduced the new regulations to control intrastate air operations left the bona fides of the Federal authorities open to question. That is the case we put against these regulations. We believe that the Government's bona fides are open to question. We believe that these regulations, indeed the whole of the Government's actions, are dictated by a desire to patronise Mr. Ansett. The patronage goes back over a great many years. Senator. Wright referred to Ivan Holyman. It was Reg Ansett with his Convairs, which he was helped by the Government to buy, who was able to cut prices and put the skids under. Ivan Holyman and Australian National Air-, ways Pty. Ltd. Senator Paltridge, who was then Minister for Civil Aviation, also was obsessed with the idea of helping this ogre of so called private enterprise. The Ansett organisation is not private enterprise; it is monopoly in its worst and most rampant form. The genuine entrepreneurs are being swallowed by the organisation of which Ansett is the frontispiece. What is happening is so humorous that cartoons have been drawn depicting Ansett turning out money for the Liberal Party, and tagged on to him are MacRobertson Miller Airlines and all the other airlines that he has swallowed. Now he is in control of television Channel 0 he will be able to look after his sponsors during the forthcoming Senate election campaign, as he has been able to do in the past by indirect methods. He owns palatial Hayman Island and he has a monopoly over tourist transport to the Snowy Mountains area. No other organisation can ply to that area. He would not let it in, because he has a monopoly.

As I said before, this is straightout patronage of one organisation. Why should Ansett have the right to dictate to the Commonwealth Government or to the Government of New South Wales? His organisation failed by ordinary business methods to take over the East-West Airlines Ltd. The New South Wales Government, quite rightly, tried to protect one of its local airline organisations against the inroads of the' monopolistic Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. It was quite justified . in promising assistance, lt looked for a way to assist the airline and sought to keep it in operation by redistributing air routes.

The problem, of course, goes deeper than that. This is only the thin end of the wedge. On-carriage is most important to the major airlines today. If opportunity is not given to the Ansett airline organisations to get into every new field, then, of course, their ability to compete with Trans-Australia Airlines will be reduced. The service from Sydney to Dubbo, in the heart of the wool area of New South Wales, is a very good one. Its potential is great. It connects with services to Bourke and Broken Hill, south-western Queensland and the channel country. It is obvious why Ansett wishes to have this feeder airline coming into his genera] stream of business.

Senator Murphymade the point that this is a case of the use of naked power to assist a monopoly. During the time that Senator Paltridge was Minister for Civil Aviation he did not conceal the fact that he intended to ensure that Ansett-A.N.A. would succeed. Australian National Airways started to fail, because of the circumstances 1 have already mentioned. Fares were .cut and the show commenced to crumble. Senator Paltridge, in 'my view, was responsible for getting Ansett to lift his sights high enough to be able to take over the A.N.A. organisation and keep it in business so that it could compete against T.A.A. The Minister realised that the efficiency of T.A.A. was such that, if left alone, it would become the major airline. It was an airline dedicated to the service of the public of Australia. It was not a profit seeker or a swindler but an airline doing its best for the country.

Senator Mattner - Do you say that T.A.A. was efficient?

Senator O'BYRNE - Yes. it was highly efficient. Given an even break, it would easily have put the other major airline out of the skies. Ansett-A.N.A. was able to keep going only because in .1961 the finance for its re-equipment programme was guaranteed. Since when has a private enterprise airline organisation been able to insist that an agreement be drawn up whereby its rival organisation is disadvantaged by having to give up certain of its routes and thus reduce its potential? Ansett-A.N.A. also insisted on getting a guarantee for the finance for its re-equipment programme as well as guarantees against sudden increases in air route charges and increases in fuel tax.

If an honorable senator were to ask a question in the Senate on such matters he would be told that they were matters of Government policy, but this man was able to insist that his airline receive those guarantees from the Government.

It is interesting to note that not one South Australian senator on the Government side has spoken in this debate today. It is shameful that Government senators representing a State whose Premier has expressed' his views so completely on this matter have not been prepared to speak. The reason is that there is a monopoly airline in that State. Civil aviation in South Australia is a closed shop. Government senators from South Australia are not worrying about this matter of rationalisation of air services because one airline has all the business in their State. The business has been handed to the monopoly airline on a plate. Airlines of South Australia Pty. Ltd. is sitting pretty.

The Ansett organisation was able also to gain access to the Darwin route.' What right; has Ansett and his organisation to ask the taxpayers to pay him a subsidy to allow him to enter this route? A perfectly good' airline was operating efficiently in and out of Darwin. The same thing has happened all along the line. Why should Ansett be able to insist that T.A.A should not have access to its own insurance account? 1 do not think there is any precedent in government action for a private organisation to insist on the agreements that Ansett has obtained.

I do not wish to delay the Senate by speaking any longer. I believe that I have expressed my views strongly enough andthat I have shown that the public of Australia is not satisfied with this action of the Government. This debate was interrupted to allow announcement to be made that there will be a Senate election on 5th December.' I believe that the action the Government has taken in this matter will be one of the reasons, amongst others, why the numberson the Government side of the Senate will be considerably reduced after 5th December.. The people will not be fooled. No sound argument has been put up by the Government supporters. Some of them have tried to abuse the Opposition, and most of them have evaded the issue. The simple issue is that there is no reason under the sun for these regulations to have been introduced at this time, other than as an act of patronage to the Ansett organisation, to give it an advantage and further its plan to become the monopolist of private airlines in Australia. I support the motion that the Senate disallow the regulations.

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