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Thursday, 21 May 1970

Mr CHARLES JONES (Newcastle) - Mr Speaker, it is obvious that the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) has been whistling in the dark and hoping that if he talks long enough he may be able to convince himself, but certainly not the people of South Australia, that Hall will be re-elected. The matter to which I wish to refer tonight is the recent fire at the Whyalla shipyards when the 'Amanda

Miller', a tanker which was well under construction, was almost totally destroyed. This fire broke out on 18th April 1970. On 22nd April, on the adjournment debate here, I asked a number of questions of the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair). These were questions to which I considered at that time, without having inspected the ship, it was necessary for the Minister to provide honourable members in this place with answers. In reply to me the Minister said: i have not made a statement to the House, but

I intend to make a statement when 1 have the facts before me which I believe the House should have at its command.

Although that statement was made by the Minister for Shipping and Transport on 22nd April it is now 2 1st May - almost a month later - and no statement has been presented to the Parliament on what happened at Whyalla where in the vicinity of $2m of Commonwealth money, involved by way of subsidy, was lost because of a fire. On 8th MayI placed on the notice paper 3 questions, Nos 969, 970 and 971. If the Minister does not know the answer to the questions now I will give him the answer. If the Minister is being correctly advised on what happened and what is happening in connection with that unfortunate event he should be able to answer these 3 questions. The first question was made up of 6 parts, the second was made up of 8 parts and the third was made up of 6 parts. If the Minister has been correctly advised he should have been able to answer them long before now. But, as I said a moment ago, if he docs not know the answers I will give them to him. In this way we might be able to have some of these questions removed from the notice paper.

The most important part of this matter is that on 22nd April in reply to me in the adjournment debate the Minister gave an undertaking that he would make a statement to the Parliament on what happened on that occasion, but here it is a month to the day later and we have had no reply. I am pleased that the Minister is in the chamber. I gave him notice thatI would be making a statement tonight which would concern him. I hope that he can give some information as to when he will make a statement on the lire that occurred on 18th

April and, most important, about when he proposes to answer the 3 questions which are of vital concern and in which many people are interested.

I notice that the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz), who represents the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) in this place, is present. He is aware of what I want to speak about soI shall deal with the matter that concerns him.In reply to question No. 644 on 12th May the Minister answered some questions which I had put on notice dealing with the breaking of the11 p.m. curfew at Sydney Airport and Melbourne Airport. With regard to Sydney Airport the Minister advised me that between 1st April 1969 and 3 1 st March 1970 there were 350 movements by jet aircraft during the curfew period from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., that of this total 178 were special flights arranged to meet the heavy traffic demands of holiday periods such as Christmas. New Year, Easter and other school holidays, and that the remaining 172 were scheduled services delayed unavoidably by adverse weather.

I accept the explanation for the 172 aircraft which were delayed because of adverse weather which probably caused a bad connection with flights coming in from other cities. These are circumstances which we can all appreciate. I do not think any of us would like to see people delayed unnecessarily because of adverse weather or because of the late arrival of an aircraft. So I accept the explanation regarding the 172 aircraft which broke the curfew from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. In the case of the 178 aircraft which broke the curfew during that 12 months the explanation is not acceptable to me. I know that the explanation is not acceptable to any honourable member on this side of the House whose electorate is involved with the problem of aircraft noise. It is time for the Department of Civil Aviation, and particularly the Minister for Civil Aviation who apparently has granted permission for these flights, to review the policy and not allow airlines to operate in curfew hours.

So far as Melbourne is concerned, the answer discloses that in the period from 1st May 1969 there were 69 movements of which the Minister approved involving regular transport aircraft.

This information shows that over a period of 20 days during the Christmas holidays there were 44 movements consisting of 16 departures and 28 arrivals. During Easter 1970 there were 36 movements, consisting of 14 departures and 22 arrivals over a 6-day period. During the AugustSeptember school holidays there were 1 1 movements, consisting of 3 departures and 8 arrivals. All these figures relate to Melbourne. So the same thing applies there.

The Department should not approve of scheduled flights such as these. On another occasion Ansett Airlines of Australia applied for, and was granted, permission for a Boeing 727 t» leave Sydney at 1.07 a.m. The purpose of this flight was to take a computer to Melbourne which had been ordered by the Melbourne Stock Exchange. Here was a case where the Department should not have granted permission for this machine to be transported by aircraft from Sydney to Melbourne in the curfew hours. It is obvious that even though the Government gives lip service to doing something about aircraft noise, in reality it is doing nothing. One thing that is obvious is that the airlines today have insufficient aircraft. There are numerous cases where aircraft passengers are unnecessarily delayed. I saw 2 instances just recently. On 30th April I was booked to travel from Sydney to Melbourne to Adelaide on the 2.15 p.m. flight out of Sydney. Everyone was on board the aircraft. The motors were started up and we thought we were on our way. Then all of a sudden the motors were cut out and we were tipped off because there had been an hydraulic fault in the aircraft. That meant that instead of getting out of Sydney at 2.15 p.m. in fact I got out at 7.15 p.m. This was because the aircraft on which I was to have travelled to Melbourne at 2.15 p.m., if I was to make the connection to Adelaide from Melbourne, was unable to make the connection. So I had to sit around twiddling my thumbs until 7.15 p.m. A number of other people were unfortunate to be in the same position as myself.

We saw an incident, in my opinion of maladministration on the part of TransAustralia Airlines. On Tuesday, 19th May, flight 421 which usually leaves Sydney at 8.30 a.m. was ready to depart. We sat there until about 8.55 a.m. when we were suddently advised that because flight 499 from Newcastle was not able to make the connection, which would be flight 499 to Canberra, it had been decided to transfer all the passengers in Sydney who were booked from Sydney to Canberra onto flight 421. I am not objecting to this. It is something that they should do more often. But the fact of the matter is that the TAA people in Sydney knew that the flight from Sydney to Newcastle that morning would not be able to land because Newcastle was fog-bound. I was fortunate enough to get out on a Masling aircraft. They knew that the Friendship, flight 499, would not be available, and while they were making up their minds what to do the aircraft was still circling around over Williamtown, Newcastle, waiting to land. There should be people there who aTe able to make decisions on the spot.

In relation to the shortage of aircraft - and it is obvious that there is a shortage of aircraft - until such time as additional DC9 and Boeing 727 aircraft become available to supplement planes already in service, the airlines should be giving consideration, if necessary, to chartering aircraft from overseas so as to ensure that the curfew hours will not be broken during holiday periods. This would also ensure that when an aircraft is unserviceable at least there will be another aircraft to replace it. I hope that the Minister and the Department of Civil Aviation through TAA will give serious consideration to rectifying this anomaly.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable gentleman's time has expired.

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