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Thursday, 14 November 1974
Page: 2374

Senator MARRIOTT (TASMANIA) - My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is it correctly estimated, as published in today's 'Canberra Times' by that newspaper's aviation correspondent, that the cost of the Prime Minister's trip to Europe in the near future in a chartered Qantas Boeing 707/32 1C jet airliner will approximate $500,000? Is this the type of extravagance in which the national Government should indulge in view of the prospect of Australia suffering a record deficit of over $ 1,300m?

Senator MURPHY -The ways in which one can work out the cost of VIP aircraft or chartered government aircraft are quite extraordinary. Apparently one can juggle figures and do whatever one wants to with them. In respect of VIP aircraft we on both sides of the chamber now know what the facts are. The planes are there. They would be consuming fuel in training exercises and all sorts of other things that have to be done. The use of Qantas aircraft involves payment to a government instrumentality and largely, whatever else might be done, it amounts to a transferring of accounts.

There are some very important considerations to which the honourable senator has not referred. When a leader of a nation is travelling around the world at a time when there are terrorists and when the hijacking of aircraft is occurring the protection of the leader- in this case the Prime Minister- and of those who go with him has to be considered. Another extremely important consideration is the protection of other persons if a Prime Minister or a leader of a nation travels on an ordinary aircraft. Not only is there the question of protection; there is also the question of the disruption of affairs if a leader of a nation travels in that way. I think the honourable senator ought to realise that there are a great number of considerations- extremely important considerations- that touch on such a matter.

To dismiss this as some kind of extravagance and to try to work out what it will cost is wrong. I would ask the honourable senator to reflect on the matter and to suggest what he would do when the leader of a nation has to travel overseas. In view of the circumstances and the very serious considerations which are put to a government by those who have the responsibility, does the honourable senator really think that the leader of a nation should travel in some other way? It is true the Prime Minister's predecessors travelled in the same way as leaders of other nations travelled. The Leader of the Opposition ought to know that circumstances have changed. There has been a necessity to change modes of travel and other practices all over the world.

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