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Ministers deny airport charges



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STATEMENT BY T M MISTER FOR CIVIL AVIATION MR. R.J. SWARTZ AND THE MINISTER FOR WORKS SENATOR R.C. WRIGHT

Charges of inexplicably ineffective management at the

new Melbourne Airport at Ulamarin e were denied emphatically tonight

by the two Commonwealth Ministers responsible for the project.

The Minister for Civil :5viation, Mr. R.W. Swartz and the

Minister for Works Senator R.C. Wright refuted the alegations made

by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Public Works Committee in a

joint statement issued in Melbourne.

The Ministers said that the 150 million airport was an

important national development and one of the biggest building projects

ever undertaken in Australia.

It was also one of the most difficult because at all times

the ever-changing needs and advances of aviation technology had, had

to be taken into account.

Since construction began bigger and faster aircraft had been

developed and Civil Aviation had progressed move swiftly than at any

other period in its history.

When Tullamarine was planned as an international jetport there

was no indication that an aircraft the size of the 350-passenger

Boning 747 was envisaged.

It was generally believed that the next advance in aviation

would be into the supersonic era with an aircraft of a size

comparable with the present intercontinental Boeing 707.

Detailed planning for the terminal building was submitted

to the Parliamentary Public Works Committee in 1965,

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It was estimated then that the building would be

completed for international operations by the end of 1968.

The Ministers said that the delays had been caused by

several.factors:—

. Tenders received for the terminal frame were too high.

To ensure that the best possible price was obt ted tenders were

called a second time.

Recurring industrial trouble once the contract had been

let for the frame.

The project was closed down for periods totalling five weeks

because of industrial disputes and for a period of at least 12 months

it was seriously undermanned because of difficulties in obtaining

enough labour.

. A variety of changes had to be made to adapt the terminal

to Boeing 747 standard.

This involved raising the level of the passenger concourse

altering the baggage conveyor system and installing additional

conveyors changes to the customs facilities and a series of other

minor alterations.

As far as the runways were concerned the Departmohts estimated in

a submission to the Parliamentary Public Works Committee in 1963

that this $16 million stage of the project would be completed by

1967.

Not on ,y was this target date achieved but the job wss completed

well within the budgeted estimate.

No change had to be made to the runways except to add fillets at

the taxiway intersections to allow for the Boeing 747s big turning c irci i.+:,

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Australia was fortunate in that the design of the new international

terminal and the length and strength of the runways was such that

the modifications needed to adapt them to Boeing 747 requirements

had been and were being incorporated with a minimum of delay and

cost.

Many other countries in the world were not in such a happy

position.

Meanwhile the Victorian Government was pushing ahead rapidly with

its $33 million freeway between the city and the new airport and

it would be ready by the time the new airport opened.

The Ministers said the project had gone most satisfactorily but

it had suffered all the problems associated with any great construction

project.

As far as the customs and incinerator buildings were concerned

these were important but quite minor in cost when considered in

the context of the airport as a whole.

The plans for these buildings were submitted to the Parliamentary

Public Works Committee at its request and this had taken some tine.

However, even if the buildings were not completed by the time the

airport opened for international operations -bout the middle of next

year they would be completed and operating by the time their full use

was required.

Temporary but satisfactory arrangements would be made in the early

stages.

The Ministers said "The most important aim at this time is to

build an airport that will cater adeciiately for all civil aviation

operations that can be foreseen.

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"The Commonwealth Departments of Civil Aviation and Works,

working together, have In the years of Tullamarine t s development

had a common object -- to building an iirport that will play its

part efficiently in the international domestic airline network

and be an acquisition in which the people of Melbourne can take

pride;

I L$OURIMA

August, 29, 196 .