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Thursday, 6 December 1973
Page: 2611

Senator MAUNSELL (Queensland) - The Australian Country Party will support the Airlines Agreements Bill 1973 and the Air Navigation (Charges) Bill 1973 and the amendment to the second Bill which will be moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers). We are very pleased to see from these Bills that the Government will continue the 2 airlines policy. There is no doubt that this policy has served Australia well. We have had healthy competition between the 2 airlines," and of course our air safety record is extremely high. However, I would appreciate the maintenance of a policy to provide adequate services to the remote areas of this country. In the past it has been obligatory on the airlines, even if they "ran at a loss, to provide a service to many of these far flung areas and to make up the loss by the profitability of the" more lucrative routes. I sincerely hope' that this Government will continue, if. not extend, that policy. We must ensure that the people in remote areas are given adequate communications. Most of them have to travel long distances to conduct their business affairs and on occasions this can be very costly. The amenities in many of these places are not so great. Surely we can assist them, particularly families going on holidays, so that they will receive the service at a reasonable charge.

I would also appreciate the Government's doing something about the schedules of the 2 airlines; This concerns the are old problem of aircraft of the 2 airlines taking off together, after which hours may elapse before the next flights are due. I know that northern Queenslanders have a problem with afternoon flights from Canberra. We have to catch an early flight to Sydney and then wait for 2 or 3 hours before we can catch, the north-bound flight. Two aircraft leave Canberra at about the same time. Irrespective of which aircraft one takes one is in the position of having to sit in Sydney for a couple of hours waiting for the northern flight. Surely a. system can be . worked out whereby the. departure times of aircraft are staggered. I believe! it is something which should be encouraged.

Once again I am a little disturbed at the increases in taxes and charges which are made under the Air Navigation (Charges) Bil). We could reach the situation of pricing air travel out of existence, except for the few. who could afford it. As was mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate the tourist industry is very important to this country and airline operations are very important to the industry. If we are to attract overseas tourists and if we are to gain the money which they bring with them we must increase the tourist traffic within Australia by providing facilities which will encourage overseas people to come here. Unless we have the facilities people will not come. I think that the first thing that we have to do is to encourage Australians to travel to see other parts of this great country of ours. They will be prepared to do that if the charges are sufficiently low. They like the aircraft because of limited travelling time. It means that they can go to these places quickly and have the maximum time there. The Australian Country Party supports the amendment to be moved by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate.

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