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Tuesday, 11 April 1972
Page: 985

Senator MURPHY (New South WalesLeader of the Opposition) - I wish to raise a matter in order to seek some assistance from the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton). Perhaps it may also involve the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch). I think I indicated that it was a matter which concerned the Minister for Civil Aviation. There is a report in today's 'Daily Mirror' headed: 'Qantas Pilots Seek Huge Pay Rise'. It reads:

Qantas jumbo pilots are asking for a 65 per cent pay increase.

If it is accepted it will mean an ordinary jumbo pilot will receive $41,160 a year.

The pay claims have been put forward by the pilots in their current award negotiations with Qantas.

The talks, which have been going on since late February, are deadlocked.

The pilots are asking for a 481 per cent increase on their standard pay.

A jumbo pilot now gets $25,246. The increase would bring his pay to $37,500.

On top of this the pilots have asked for a $4,000 navigational allowance, for using the sophisticated jumbo navigational equipment.

If granted the increases would bring the ordinary jumbo pilot's salary to $41,160 a year

This is an overall increase of 65 per cent, for the 30 jumbo pilots.

Qantas is fighting the increased pay demands, tooth and nail.

The report referred to the dire financial straits of Qantas and continued:

Qantas recently has laid off more than 250 employees in an effort to cut expenses.

The pay increases, if met, would add more than $500,000 to the wages bill.

I would like the Minister to put before the Senate - if he is able to do so now, but if not as soon as he can conveniently do so - information as to whether these figures are correct and whether it is true that an ordinary jumbo pilot is actually getting $25,246 a year. I would like him to explain what an ordinary jumbo pilot is. Does the report mean that captains are getting more than that? Is it conceivable that a jumbo pilot should get certainly $10,000 more than a university professor and the top research scientists in this country, and perhaps thousands more, I would think, than you, Mr President, get? I would like to know whether it is true that an ordinary Qantas Airways Ltd pilot, so described, is getting more than is received by the top public servants and Ministers of the Crown. Perhaps the Minister would tell us how that salary compares with his salary.

These are the salaries of an ordinary pilot. Will he let us know the salaries of extraordinary pilots? Can he tell us what are the real rates? What pay do they actually get? Can he tell us the other allowances and so forth? Can he put before the Senate information as to the actual claims which have been made? Is it possible that amounts such as these are being paid to pilots who are claiming salaries which seem to be extraordinary and astronomical in the light of the relativities of wages paid to other persons - typists, cleaners and ordinary workers - employed by Qantas? Is it possible that people are seeking sums in the region of $30,000 and $40,000, which sums are higher than the salaries of Ministers of the Crown, Cabinet Ministers and, I suppose, the Treasurer.

Senator Wood - What about the lump sum when they retire?

Senator MURPHY - Senator Wood interjects. Will the Minister put before the Senate specific information as to the actual, amounts which are receivable by way of superannuation by the persons concerned? Can he tell us what is being done by Qantas to ensure that reasonable treatment is given to the people on the lower branches - the stewardesses, the typists and the ordinary people - employed by Qantas before there is any thought of adding to scales which seem already, by current wage standards in this country, grossly excessive? Can he indicate to the Senate what action will be taken to deal with the pay dispute and what steps he proposes to take to ensure some relativity and some justice to the lower paid employees? Can he assure the Senate that if $500,000 is to be paid out it will go to the people at the bottom of the scale - the people who are being put out of their jobs at a time of unemployment? 1 am sure that most honourable senators would like the Minister to tell us how it has come about that in this country Qantas pilots can already be receiving and be in a position to assert claims for what are, by our ordinary standards, grossly excessive salaries which are completely out of relativity with wage scales, particularly with those paid to the ordinary employees of Qantas.

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