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Friday, 10 December 1965

Mr TURNBULL (Mallee) .- I have listened with great interest to this debate. I do not desire to take up very much of the time of the House but I wish to make one or two comments. The Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn), in introducing this Bill said -

It is the Government's policy to move progressively towards the ultimate full recovery of that part of the cost of providing facilities that is properly attributable to the industry.

The increase of 10 per cent, in charges to be collected is a step in that direction. Eventually, if Government policy is fully carried out - and it has been advocated today - the airlines will pay the cost of providing all kinds of devices that are necessary for actual flying and for safety measures. This, I think, is very desirable. The question may arise as to why this has not been done before. The airline industry in Australia is still in the stage of building up and becoming efficient. We must pay a tribute to its efficiency so far and I hope that this efficiency will continue. The position in Australia is quite different from that in countries where airline companies have been in operation for many more years than they have been in Australia. Therefore, so as to foster good relations and good conditions so far as flying is concerned, and to encourage people to travel by air, the Government has contributed largely to the facilities that are necessary to make flying, above everything else, safe in Australia. It has been very successful. I believe every honorable member will hope, with me, that this safety record will continue because it is that which makes airlines profitable. Safety influences more people to travel by aeroplane and our safety record in Australia is good.

I listened with great care to the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones). He said most of the money spent on civil aviation was spent in the big cities. Then he made a plea for Newcastle. I think he said that Newcastle was the sixth largest city in Australia. Therefore, he made a plea for another city. So far as this money which is being collected is concerned, I would like to see more of it being made available for aerodromes in isolated places. On the other hand, we have to realise that while the Government will collect more money it will still be spending a tremendous amount of money on its present programme - a lot more money than it collects. Nevertheless, I believe that, progressively, aerodromes in country areas should be taken over by the Government so that they should be made operational for larger aeroplanes. I am particularly concerned with places like Mildura, Swan Hill and Kerang where there are aerodromes. I am asking that an increased amount of Government money be spent on these aerodromes to encourage flying into these decentralised areas.

Just in passing, and without wanting to be against your ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I think I could just answer one point made by the honorable member for Newcastle. He tried to relate the petrol tax, which is now collected in the form of excise, to what is happening in the case of aviation. He said that over the last 10 years £200 million had been kept in Consolidated Revenue. Let me say briefly that when the Australian Labour Party was in office in this Parliament over 70 per cent, of collections was kept in Consolidated Revenue and less than 30 per cent, was used for roads. This ratio has been reversed. Now more than 80 per cent, of the money is used for roads and less than 20 per cent, is kept in Consolidated Revenue. Without stretching for too long the tolerance that you have given on this subject, but being anxious to speak, although perhaps for not as long as the honorable member for Newcastle, I want to say that Labour's policy has changed a bit in this regard. I want to quote from "Hansard" of 9th December 1948. The Prime Minister of Australia at that time, the late Mr. Chifley, said -

Although from time to time claims are made that the whole of the proceeds of the petrol tax should be devoted to road-making and maintenance, 1 do not consider that any government in this country will ever agree to that being done.

That was said by the great leader of the Labour Party. So far as this Bill is concerned, from what has been said, the Opposition supports it. As it is a Government measure my party also supports it. I hope that it will have a swift passage and will prove of value to civil aviation.

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