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Thursday, 10 November 1983
Page: 2643

Debate resumed.

Mr BRAITHWAITE —There is also the matter of airports and the south road from Alice Springs to Adelaide. Both were bitterly criticised by the honourable member for the Northern Territory before his election as indications of neglect by Canberra, that is, by the Fraser Government. It is now being argued by the same person as a member that it is the fault of the Northern Territory Government. He cannot have it both ways. Fortunately, the previous Federal Minister for Transport, the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt), locked the south road into the bicentennial road development program for completion by 1988 . So in spite of the efforts of the honourable member for the Northern Territory this program should go ahead unless, of course, the present Government is intent on pursuing its vendetta against the north.

The Federal Government is also trying to pass the Alice Springs Airport on to local government in Alice Springs, although the airport is not within its boundaries. Certain services have to be maintained by the Commonwealth in view of the Territory's fledgling economy, and airports and air services are two of them. This is at a time when the Commonwealth is actually taking money from local government by reducing in real terms the local government share of personal income tax around Australia by $13m. It is another example of this Government's reducing funds but expecting the Alice Springs local authority to assume its financial responsibilities for airport maintenance. The same applies to the Tennant Creek airport. I hope that the developments required at Katherine , at Tindal and at Darwin will be proceeded with urgently by this Government.

On my various visits throughout the Territory I have seen that the tourism industry in this region is in its infancy. But it has great potential because the area has retained its natural characteristics. It is an industry that is being fostered and encouraged by the Northern Territory Government. I have submitted to the Minister for Sport, Recreation and Tourism (Mr John Brown) that we want not a 30-day all Australian excursion air fare for the southern golden triangle but a 30-day excursion for the North. I was advised that the Government felt that such an excursion fare was not practical, no doubt because it might upset the southern industries. We should be encouraging that vast number of tourists from the Pacific and South East Asian areas to enter Australia through the front door; that is, through Darwin and the North Queensland ports, and not limit tourist trade to the south. One of the problems is the abnormally high cost of fares in the markets of South East Asia and particularly Japan. So I also suggest that our domestic airlines should be allowed to operate the short- haul international flights to Singapore and Hong Kong to lessen the cost.

Northern Australia has everything the tourist is asking for-the unspoiled beauty of Ayers Rock, Alice Springs, Katherine Gorge, the Kimberleys and the Great Barrier Reef, but the Federal Government offers no incentive, no competition and no challenge to market this beauty to the world. We have as good attractions in sun, surf and scenery as any other part of the world. Our share of the international travel market needs people and government which understand it. Canberra does not, and certainly the Labor Party totally neglects the north. There are so many examples of this neglect, such as the broken promises of less tax, cheaper fuel, controlled prices, more employment and cheaper air fares. All have been abandoned along with the interest in advancing the development of the Northern Territory. It is of great regret that it is left to me as shadow Minister to advance the interests of the Northern Territory as obviously the Labor member and senator representing the Territory have adopted the role of the Labor Government in this Parliament.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. Les Johnson) —Order! The honourable member's time has expired.