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Wednesday, 31 October 1956

Mr GRIFFITHS (SHORTLAND, NEW SOUTH WALES) h asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation,' upon notice -

1.   What progress has been made in the acquisition of land at Hexham for the building of an airport for Newcastle?

2.   Has any firm offer been made to the owners of the land; if so, what was the amount offered?

3.   Is the Royal Newcastle Aero Club to be accommodated at Hexham?

4.   If not, has any approach been made for land at Blacksmiths, near Swansea, for a site?

Mr Townley - The following replies have been made available by the Minister for Civil Aviation: -

1.   All land at Hexham is included in the 1956-57 programme and is being negotiated by the Department of Interior at the present time.

2.   A firm offer of £9,000 was made for the land required. The owner now wishes to sell a larger area and has offered the lot at a higher figure. This offer is under consideration.

3.   When the aerodrome at Hexham is developed the aero club could presumably be accommodated there if they so desire.

4.   The Commonwealth has taken no steps to procure land at Blacksmiths, near Swansea, for an aerodrome site.

Liquor on Civil Planes.

Mr Duthie e asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -

1.   Are women and children often inconvenienced in passenger planes by the conduct of other passengers who are under the influence of liquor?

2.   Have air pilots and officers had to leave the flight deck in order to control a passenger who was under the influence of liquor?

3.   Is it a fact that air hostesses, against their inclinations, have to act as barmaids on passenger planes?

4.   Has his attention been drawn to the resolution of the Hobart Temperance Alliance urging the discontinuance of the serving of liquor on planes in view of its hazard to air travel?

Mr Townley - The Minister for Civil Aviation has furnished the following replies to the honorable member's questions: -

1.   No. Earlier this year my department conducted a thorough investigation of this matter and also obtained reports from airline operators and the Pilots and Air Hostesses Associations. This investigation established that the operators exercise very strict control over the sale of liquor to passengers, and instruct their staff that liquor must not be served to any passenger who appears to be even slightly under the influence of alcohol. In addition, no person who appears to be under the influence of alcohol is permitted to embark. The airline companies and the Pilots and Air Hostesses Associations were unanimous in their advice that because of the strict control over Serving of liquor in aircraft there is little likelihood of inconvenience to passengers.

2.   No. The very rare cases in which a crew member has had to control a passenger were not attributable to service of liquor during flight. While it is an offence for a passenger to enter an aircraft in a state of intoxication, it will be appreciated that despite vigilance of airline employees the condition of a passenger may not become apparent until after commencement of a flight.

3.   Hostesses are aware of the nature of their duties prior to accepting employment and it can, therefore, be assumed that they have no objection to serving liquor. In any case it is inaccurate and misleading to suggest that air hostesses act as barmaids.

4.   No. But my attention has been drawn to a similar resolution of the Women's Christian Temperance Union of Tasmania. Crew members are prohibited by law from consuming alcoholic beverages in the twelve hours preceding flight, and it is an offence for a passenger to enter an aircraft when in a state of intoxication. The quantity of liquor served to passengers during flight is strictly controlled by all airlines and I am satisfied that there is no evidence that the serving of liquor on planes constitutes a hazard to air travel.

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