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Wednesday, 5 December 1973

The PRESIDENT - Yes. I just make this observation. Question time has come to an end. There is a tendency- I am not saying, senator, that you are using it as a device- to use the device of questions which are not on notice and to which the Minister wishes to reply.

Senator CAVANAGH -Today I was asked whether I would look into a matter. I found it embarrassing because I could not pass the buck any further. Now I have a reply. A recommendation by the International Air Transport Association to increase air fares to offset increases in fuel prices is being studied carefully by the Minister in consultation with Qantas Airways Ltd and the Department. The Minister was unable to conclude these consultations before he left for overseas last Friday but it is his intention to resume them immediately on his return. I would expect that he would be in a position to make an announcement next week. Honourable senators will appreciate that in view of the very substantial increase in the cost of aviation fuel to the airlines it would be difficult for Qantas to absorb these costs and that serious consideration must be given to the IATA recommendation on fare increases.

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