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Thursday, 24 October 1974
Page: 1929

Senator BUTTON (VICTORIA) - Can the Minister representing the Minister for Transport advise the Senate on the ministerial meeting held in Suva, Fiji, concerning regional aviation in the South Pacific? Has the Minister for Transport reported back to the Government on the decisions reached at the meeting? What action has the Government since taken?

Senator CAVANAGH (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs) -Yes. I have had discussions with the Minister for Transport on this question. The Minister was unable to attend that particular meeting as it coincided with a Cabinet Budget discussion. A very senior officer from the Department of Transport was sent to that meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss closer co-operation and amalgamation between the airlines of the region. Whilst it was agreed that the individual regional governments wanted to support their separate airlines, it was decided that a great effort should be made to co-ordinate the operations and functions of the airlines. The Australian Government supports a single regional concept. It feels that regional arrangements must be determined by the governments and the peoples of particular areas. In order to enable Air Pacific to continue operations in a profitable manner, the Australian Government has agreed to provide a loan to the Fijian Government. The Fijian Government, to utilise the loan, seeks a bigger shareholding in Air Pacific at a time when the airline badly needs greater share capital. It is thought that, as a result of the conference, there will a closer coordination of the functionings of the various airlines in this region.

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