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Wednesday, 20 March 1985
Page: 488

Senator LAJOVIC —My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I ask him whether it is fact or fiction that, as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald today, the Royal Australian Air Force aircraft on which he was flying home from Moscow, through the corridor where the Korean airliner was shot down by the Soviets 18 months ago, was warned by the Soviet air traffic controller as follows:

My radar is not working-please be very careful.

In view of the latest alleged incident in that corridor, will the Minister issue a clear warning to all Australian travellers not to travel on that highly dangerous route?

Senator BUTTON —The short answer to the question is no. I was not aware, until the report in the Sydney Morning Herald was drawn to my attention this morning, of the discussion between Squadron Leader Armstrong and the Soviet air traffic controllers on that issue. I am aware that great attention was given by the RAAF and other authorities to ensure that people understood we were coming; that was on the way to the Soviet Union. Certainly it is true that the crew of the aircraft concerned, once we had crossed into Soviet air space, was very appreciative of the assistance given throughout the trip by the Soviet air traffic control authorities. I take it that Senator Lajovic is seeking to make some sort of political point. That was the first occasion that an RAAF aircraft has ever been in Soviet air space. I do not think it is the practice of Australians to fly into the Soviet Union on that particular route so I do not think any warning is necessary. I certainly would not give it because that would seem to be in pursuit of an ideological political point which in this particular instance I do not share.