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Thursday, 28 November 1974
Page: 2969

Senator CAVANAGH (South AustraliaMinister for Aboriginal Affairs) - In reply- We are dealing with 2 Bills which the Opposition does not oppose. It is not clear to which Bill the Opposition has moved an amendment to add certain words. From the Opposition side we have had 3 speakers who have done a great disservice to their Party. They have come along here with an amendment to one of the Bills and I assume that this was done as a result of a direction from their Party. Senator Sim moved this amendment and these honourable senators then spoke of the high fares under this Government. But the Opposition is not complaining about high fares under this Government; those honourable senators who spoke were. In 1960 the then

Government decided to recover the cost of providing airline services. That was not a Labor Government but it was a government which lacked the capability of Senator Sim. That Government did not have the brains of a Senator Sim in its party. It therefore lacked that capability. But it was a Liberal-Country Party Government and it decided to recover the cost of airline services, but it never set a date for this to come into effect. Because the Government then was so much involved with those concernedthere were farmers who were having crop dusting done and so on- it never achieved its aim. It never had the courage to achieve it. Then this Government came into office.

The recovery of the cost of providing airline services is a policy supported by both the Liberal Party and the Australian Labor Party and that is why there is no disagreement over this Bill. Now we have had moved an amendment that does not complain about the increased fares that the honourable senators I have referred to complained about, and an amendment which makes no mention of what increased fares might be applied but complains because the increases are not spelt out in the Bill. On the question of increased fares we all agree. But Senator Sim has departed from Opposition policy in order to put a parochial view. We have been asked whether we are going to close the airport at Wynyard and whether we are going to look after those in the Kimberleys and Senator Jessop has asked whether we will preserve the Port Augusta airport. Honourable senators opposite deserted their Party in order to put forward their belief that we should pay for these services that are provided in their parochial little areas. This is not the Opposition's policy but the policy of those honourable senators who have said that we have neglected the small man, that we are not looking after him. There is a complete lack of ability on Senator Jessop 's part to understand words. Of course he said we are neglecting the little man because Port Augusta Airways is going out of existence.

Are those who have small aircraft and those who have aerial services in the outback the little men? Should we pay $65m a year out of contributions made by taxpayers to keep these little men in operation? The Opposition wants the kiddy who goes down the shop to buy a lolly or an ice cream, the low margin worker and some of our pensioners to be taxed to keep these little men who own small aircraft in operation and to provide them with services. These people should be taxed so that the Port Augusta Airways can stay in operation and so that Wynyard and the other aerodromes which are situated every few miles across north Tasmania can stay in operation. Should we forget the low margin worker, the kiddy buying ice cream, the pensioner who is paying tax and other disabled people who are paying taxes to provide services for these socalled little men? That is the proposal of the Opposition. Of course, this Bill does not contribute to increased fares. We know, as Senator Sim has said, air fares have gone up since this Government came into office.

Senator Sim - That is right.

Senator CAVANAGH - Well, I am agreeing with the honourable senator for once. He should not criticise me when I agree with him. I know I should apologise for doing so. Nevertheless he should not criticise me on the occasion I agree with him. The airline charges for using aerodromes and so on have not contributed to the increase in fares. A spiralling increase in other costs is causing fares to increase time and time again. If ever a Minister was trying to stop big increases in wages it is the present Minister for Transport. But Senator Sim's vested interest, Ansett Transport Industries, is the one which is making sweetheart agreements all the time for the purpose -

Senator Sim - Who are my vested interests?

Senator CAVANAGH - Well, the honourable senator never fails to support Ansett.

Senator Sim - What are my vested interests?

Senator Withers - You never fail to support trade unions. Do you have a vested interest in them?

Senator CAVANAGH - I have a very big vested interest in them. They are battling for the underprivileged of Australia, for the little man who is not an aircraft owner. Fuel and crude costs in airline operations in Australia are 20 per cent of the total cost. Engineering costs are 34 per cent. Interest and depreciation on airlines are 22 per cent and air navigation charges are 2 per cent. The increase which will be imposed is about one-third of one per cent of the total aviation cost.

Senator Sim - How about fuel?

Senator CAVANAGH - Fuel and crude costs are 20 per cent. Senator Sim is attacking an increase of one-third of 1 per cent of the total cost. He says this should be contributed by the taxpayers of Australia no matter how impoverished they are. That is his attitude to the question. It is not the Opposition's attitude; it is an attitude that particular honourable senators have taken to this question. The Opposition's amendment is illogical and incapable of proper interpretation. It would mean nothing even if it were carried. It is not a condemnation of any increased costs which may occur. It is a condemnation because we do not set out the details. In his second reading speech the Minister said that we are seeking to recover 80 per cent of the total cost by 1978. It is impossible to say how much this will be in increased air charges. As the amendment suggests, with the effects of the inflationary spiral no one can gather how much the increase will be. There is protection because the charges are brought in by way of regulation. These regulations he on the table of both Houses of Parliament for15 sitting days during which time they are scrutinised by members of both Houses of Parliament. A motion for their disallowance can be moved by either House. So increases in charges to airlines are left in the hands of members of the Parliament, not in the hands of the Minister. The Minister may make recommendations but he is unable to increase air charges.

But we are not concerned with increases in charges to airlines. The amendment says that the charges should be spelt out, not so that people will know why they have to pay increases. That is not a consideration. It does not matter whether people know it or not. The amendment refers to the effect on the inflationary spiral. No other reason is given. But no one knows what the situation may be next year or next month. The amendment also refers to charges covering a wide variety of other services provided to the aviation industry. There will be a criticism if the amendment is carried, but the amendment means nothing. It is an exercise in time wasting. Three Opposition senators who do not agree with their own Party's policy are being given an opportunity to peddle parochial issues here. We should stop this humbug and get on with the business of the Senate.

Question put:

That the words proposed to be added (Senator Sim's amendment) be added.

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