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Thursday, 26 March 1987
Page: 1592

Mr IAN CAMERON —I direct a question to the Minister for Aviation. As his Government subsidies from consolidated revenue the bus services of Canberra to the tune of $18m a year, as well as the Commonwealth railways at a cost of $47m and the Tasmanian ferry service at a cost of many millions of dollars, I ask the Minister: Why is he not prepared again to help maintain Australian Airlines air passenger services within inland Queensland by returning the subsidy of $2m that his Government has withdrawn?

Mr PETER MORRIS —I thank the honourable member for Maranoa for his question. A similar question was asked of me a few days ago by the honourable member for Kennedy. I understand very well his keen interest. I am a little puzzled by the comparisons made by the honourable member for Maranoa.

Just to set the record straight, payments in respect of Australian Capital Territory bus services are directly comparable with the general revenue grant made to each of the States from which the States then fund their urban public transport services. So Queensland already gets a benefit comparable to the services provided to the Australian Capital Territory. They are not comparable to air services. In respect of the Tasmanian ferry service there is no subsidy paid by this Government but, far better still, this Government provided Tasmania with a new service. We said to the Tasmanian Government: `Who best understands the needs of Tasmania? Who best understands the potential of the Tasmanian tourist industry and who is in the best position to provide that service?' The resounding answer was: `Tasmania'. We gave Tasmania the money and it runs that service. A freight service subsidy is provided under the Tasmanian freight equalisation scheme. The Tasmanian Government and most of the Opposition agree that that subsidy is desirable. I note that the honourable member for Bass fully supports that policy.

In respect of air services in western Queensland the facts are that Australian Airlines is seeking to rationalise those services and the services of Air Queensland with a view to overcoming the substantial losses that are being incurred. Similarly, Australian Airlines has had detailed discussions with the Queensland Government because, as the honourable member for Maranoa will recall, on the one hand Queensland has an open skies policy for aviation in Queensland and on the other hand licenses the services. The licensing of those intrastate services is a responsibility of the Queensland Government.

Mr Hollis —Where does Joh's plane come in?

Mr PETER MORRIS —I will come to Joh in a moment. Don't you worry about that.

Mr Howard —It is not all that original.

Mr PETER MORRIS —It is not meant to be original, my friend. It is not meant to be original at all. Australian Airlines and Air Queensland are seeking to put arrangements into place to provide for services from which they are withdrawing. The Government supports that initiatives on the part of Australian Airlines.

I did mention the other day to the honourable member for Kennedy that there is another airline in Queensland-Joh's airline. It has an HS125 jet. To replace that today would cost about $10m. At the time I did not know the operating costs but I have done a bit of research since then for the benefit of the honourable member, which is why I thanked him for his question. The maintenance cost of that aircraft is $580 per hour. It fuel consumption is $545 per hour. Crew cost is about $80 per hour. So the direct operating cost is some $1,205 per hour. If one adds to that the indirect operating costs of some $1,595 per hour, one gets the grand total of $2,800 per hour. That aircraft is beloved by the Premier of Queensland. I will explain why in a moment. Over recent weeks in the course of the Premier of Queensland's jaunt around Australia on the `Joh for PM' campaign that aircraft has been to Wagga, Perth, Melbourne, Sydney, Alice Springs, Katherine, Darwin--

Mr Ian Cameron —Madam Speaker, I raise a point of order. The aircraft of the Queensland Government has nothing to do with my question. I asked about Australian Airlines.

Madam SPEAKER —The honourable member will resume his seat. I call the Minister.

Mr PETER MORRIS —The aircraft has everything to do with the question asked by the honourable member because the costs of that aircraft are being borne by the taxpayers of Queensland. If the honourable member has a genuine commitment to his constituents, he would want to see the money that is being squandered in running this aircraft around Australia spent instead on providing services to his constituents. He cannot have it both ways. He cannot say that the money should be spent on a jaunt around Australia for politicking by the Premier of Queensland and on the other hand say that we should pick up the bill at Federal level for a subsidy of air services for his constituents. In addition, there were trips to Tokyo and to Ankara. I just want to get things straight because when the Premier arrived in Tokyo--

Mr Ian Cameron —Madam Chair, Turkey is not in Maranoa and nor is Japan. I have asked a question about the inland routes of Queensland.

Madam SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member will resume his seat. The Minister, I think, is displaying where the money is available.

Mr Ian Cameron —I am not interested in where the money is going; I want to know about Australian Airlines and inland air routes.

Madam SPEAKER —Sit down. I call the Minister.

Mr PETER MORRIS —As I was about to say to the honourable member, I am sure he will be interested in this because this is a Press statement from the Queensland Government's Press Office in Tokyo. In introducing the Premier it said this:

He is a strong advocate of free enterprise and is extremely pro-Japanese in regard to investment and migration.

. . . .

Sir Joh will be flying to Queensland in the Queensland Government jet, piloted by Captain Beryl Young, who is the only female flight captain-

you missed out on this, Prime Minister-

to command an aircraft flying senior Australian politicians on international air-routes.

There are very few doing that, but then Joh loves this aircraft and this service. To explain why Joh cannot find the money to fund air services for the constituents of the honourable member for Maranoa but he can for this jet, one should look at the Bulletin of 31 March where there is a very good article by Paul Bongiorno, who refers to a visit to the sumptuous reception rooms of the Premier in the Executive Building in Brisbane. The article says:

. . . we were ushered into a bigger reception room, reminiscent of the foyer of the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. The walls were lined in Queensland timber. Objects d'art were displayed in exquisitely lit alcoves around the room.

Mr Ian Cameron —Honest to goodness, what has a hotel room in Tokyo got to do with the air services in inland Queensland? That is what I want to know.

Madam SPEAKER —The honourable member will resume his seat. I call the Minister.

Mr PETER MORRIS —As I was saying:

Objects d'art were displayed in exquisitely lit alcoves around the room. In the centre alcove-

just try to picture this-

a terra cotta bust of Bjelke-Petersen himself done in the style of a Roman emperor.

Can honourable members just see that? A beautiful alcove, and there it is as one walks in. When Paul Bongiorno--

Madam SPEAKER —The honourable member will resume his seat. May I point out to the honourable member for Maranoa that I find the Minister in order. I ask him to resume his seat.

Mr Ian Cameron —I haven't spoken yet, Madam Speaker.

Madam SPEAKER —I am sorry; I assumed that you had raised the same point of order and that I had not heard it.

Mr Ian Cameron —Obviously you are not listening because I have not said anything yet, but I tell you what, I am going to.

Madam SPEAKER —Will the honourable member raise his point of order?

Mr Ian Cameron —Madam Speaker, I would like you to refer to standing order 145. What the Minister is answering here is quite irrelevant. It has nothing to do with the people of western Queensland who are going broke and who wish to have a decent air service put in place. I want him to answer the question properly.

Madam SPEAKER —Please resume your seat. I call the Minister.

Mr PETER MORRIS —The honourable member would not have asked this question if he had not wanted me to answer it. I am doing my best to give him the facts. The Premier, in talking with Paul Bongiorno, the author of this article, and I recommend it to the honourable member for his reading--

Mr Hawke —It is very good, actually.

Mr PETER MORRIS —It is an excellent article, Prime Minister. The journalist said that the Premier was explaining to him, how he was going to become the Prime Minister of Australia, and was setting out on this crusade, all the sacrifices that he would have to make.

The article stated:

He says the move will demand huge sacrifices. ``I've got to forgo my staff, these rooms, these lovely rooms . . . I've got to forgo my jet-

Mr Keogh —Beryl Young?

Mr PETER MORRIS —Yes, he says that-

and pilot-

that is, Beryl Young-

my car and driver and policeman. I've got to forgo, in other words everything,'' he says.

That is why the Government of Queensland does not have the money to pay the air subsidy to provide the services for the honourable member's constituents. I hope that the honourable member will join with the rest of the honourable members in this chamber, certainly those on the other side, who would like to see that money that is being squandered on jaunts around Australia spent, instead, on providing a service to the people of western Queensland.