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Thursday, 28 November 1974
Page: 2968

Senator JESSOP (South Australia) -I want to say a word or two on this inflationary measure that we are discussing in the Senate tonight which will impose further costs on the airline operators of Australia. I am one who does not consider that providing air services in Australia needs to be regarded as something unusual and that the airline operators should not expect to make a profit. It seems to me that the Government has always regarded profit-making as something which is sinful. I do not. I think it is something which ought to be regarded as an essential part of our economy. Firms ought to be able to make a profit so that they can provide jobs for people in Australia. This is one of the reasons, of course, why the Labor Party has got into such a horrible mess. The Government does not have any commonsense in relation to economic management.

I should like to put in a plug for the third level airline operators who seem to me to be disregarded by the Labor Government whichever way they turn- as the Government disregards most small people. The third level airline operators are providing a valuable service to the Australian community, particularly in outlying areas. This sort of penalty that we are inflicting upon those people tonight is going to cause them some hardship. I believe it could result in a diminution of the services that they are providing to the people in the outback of our country. I refer in South Australia to Port Augusta Air Services which operates in South Australia but the head office of which is in Melbourne. It provides a service to people who live in Port Augusta, Port Pirie, Leigh Creek, Oodnadatta and Kangaroo

Island as well as other centres. Another airline company in South Australia, Opal Air Pty Ltd, flies to Coober Pedy and Andamooka and Aboriginal settlements, as the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Cavanagh) will be aware, at Ernabella and other parts of northern South Australia. We have another third level airline in South Australia which provides a service to the Eyre Peninsula. Central Australian Airways Pty Ltd flies to towns such as Wudinna, Streaky Bay and other towns on the Eyre Peninsula. Connair in the Northern Territory provides a very valuable community service. This Party that we have in Government at the moment professes to be the supporter of the little man. I believe that this has been shown to be demonstrably wrong since it has been in Government because whatever the Government has done since it has been in office has, in fact, hurt the small man. I would like to read just a little extract from a publication called Aircraft', the official organ of various aero clubs and aeronautical engineering societies in Australia. The headline of one article reads: Budget Aviation Cost-Lifts Hit Hardest on GA Battlers'. The article states:

Labor's professed concern for the 'little man' does not apparently extend to the 'battlers' in the business community, upon whom a sizeable proportion of the work force depends for wages. As economists have warned, many of these small businesses are already waging a losing battle against inflation. Among them can be counted many of the General Aviation fraternity, and for some of these the Budget presented last month by Treasurer Crean could well be the final straw.

I do not know that Treasurer Crean did present the Budget but I believe that Dr Cairns decimated it. I feel very sorry for Frank Crean who tried hard and laboured under tremendous odds to do his best, in the Budget and it was absolutely wrecked by the stupidity of the Labor Party. The article continued:

From already seriously-stretched resources, this section of the industry must find an additional estimated $3.9m in Air Navigation Charges.

To get the full impact of that on a struggling industry we must await whatever spelling out on cost contributions is disclosed in the 1973-74 Transport Department Report, for costs were also increased sharply last year. But consider it against this fact . . . The Civil Aviation Report, 1972-73, quoted total ANC paid by 'private, aerial work and charter' operators that year as $1,014,843! Mr Crean introduced the latest impost in his Budget speech with a reference to the expected IS per cent increase in Air Nav. Charges ('the maximum permissible under the Airlines Agreement negotiated with the two major domestic airlines last October') and went on: 'Charges to general aviation will be increased by an additional 50 per cent . . . '

That sounds bad enough- and it apparently did to Mr Crean also. In the papers attached to his printed speech it is put this way . . . 'Charges to general aviation will be increased by an additional 50 per cent over and above the basic 15 per cent increase.' It means the present rate (substantially increased last year), plus IS per cent- and then another 50 per cent! If that doesn't classify as a savage- indeed, a merciless- increase against that section of the industry least able to bear it, or pass it on, what does?

This is the sort of attitude that this Government has. I am particularly concerned that the penalty is going to be paid very heavily by the third airline operators who are providing an invaluable service to people living in the outback parts of this country and who are at present finding it very difficult to maintain their services. I am afraid that this Bill will mean that their attempts to continue this service profitably without reducing services to these remote areas will be jeopardised. I support the amendment that has been moved by Senator Sim tonight in the following terms:

At end of motion, add: but the Senate is of the opinion that, in view of the effect on the inflationary spiral, the Government should state in some detail the proposed increase in fees and charges covering a wide variety of other services provided to the aviation industry. '. lt is only fair to the people I have been referring to that that should happen.

Senator Sim - They do not know what they are doing.

Senator JESSOP - Quite right. It is only in that way that these people will be able to budget and plan ahead to ensure that they are able to provide a continuing and invaluable service to the outback part of this country.

Senator Milliner - I ask that the article to which Senator Jessop has referred be tabled.

Senator JESSOP - 1 would be happy to incorporate the whole of it.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Georges)- Senator Milliner, are you asking that this article be tabled?

Senator Milliner - That is all I want.

Senator JESSOP -I table the article.

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