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Wednesday, 21 October 1964

Senator HENTY (Tasmania) (Minister for Civil Aviation) . - in reply - I have listened carefully to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Kennelly). There is a rationale in this because these charges are paid by all the international airlines as well as by the internal airlines. We have to be 6ure that our charges are not too: far above the charges in other countries. If they were, international airlines probably would visit other countires and would not come to Australia. There must be a rationale in these matters and the charges must be kept within bounds. At present our charges are among the highest in the world but we give exceptionally good service. I have no doubt in my own mind that, as the costs increase, the Government will consider further rises in landing charges.

I was interested in the little bit of history that was reviewed by Senator Kennelly because I know the area to which he was referring quite well. The honorable senator went back to 1947 when there was quite a scrap over the inauguration of the Government airline to compete with the pioneer private airline, Australian National Airways Pty. Ltd. There were some real fights in those days and the Labour Government of 1947 was trying to impose sanctions having frankly declared its desire to see a Government airline and no other in operation. It wanted to drive the private airline out of the sky and was determined that the Government airline would operate alone in Australia. That was the Government's policy at that time. It was entitled to .have that policy but I mention this because Senator Kennelly went into history and I felt that I should give a few more details of the events of those days. Among other things, the Government of that day imposed high charges - almost savage charges - reminiscent of the action that was taken: recently by another Labour Government.

Senator Kennelly - They were not savage charges.

Senator HENTY - They, were pretty savage. One airline was operating on Government money and the other was financed by private enterprise. Australian National Airways Pty. Ltd., the private enterprise airline, rejected the charges and said that the Government could not impose them. It said the charges were not legal because the company bad a lease on the aerodromes and, until the lease expired, the Government could not impose the charges. So the company refused to pay them. Significantly enough, the Government of that day did not attempt to collect the charges in 1 947, 1 948 or in 1949 when it went out of office because it knew the leases were sound and it was beyond the Government's capacity to collect the charges it had tried to impose.

When the present Government came into office in 1950, it assessed the position and told both airlines that it would determine a fair compromise charge. The Government told one airline that it would refund twothirds of the charges it had paid and it asked the other airline to pay one-third of the charges it owed. Thus both paid equivalent rates and they started afresh from there. I have reviewed that history because of the statements that were made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. He has an excellent memory but he is not the only one in this chamber who remembers events of those days.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.

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