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Thursday, 26 November 1959

Mr CHANEY (Perth) .- The object of this bill is to do something that is necessary for civil aviation in Australia. Unfortunately, in this debate it has been too closely associated with the sale of liquor at airports. As was pointed out during the second-reading speech of the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley), the bill does not cover only trading in liquor at airports. I believe that the concessions granted at any airport in Australia should only be granted in a certain field if there is not adequate coverage of that field by a local trader. I am reminded that our main aerodrome in Western Australia is in an area which is not highly built up. I think that most aerodromes in Australia are built on what were once wastelands or cheap lands, with no highly developed areas around them. If somebody is operating a business in such an area, I do not think that the Government should set up opposition to him with a State controlled business. This could be to the detriment of somebody who had battled for years to establish a business.

Mr Uren - Therefore you are opposing this bill?


Mr Uren - Will you vote with us?

Mr CHANEY - No. Wait until I have finished. If you listen carefully you will realize what I am saying. I think it is quite ridiculous for people to oppose the establishment of bars at airports if they have had no experience of such amenities. At our international airport in Western Australia, for the last few years, a bar has operated highly successfully. To those people who envisage ground staff visiting the bar to get intoxicated and endanger the lives of passengers I say that that is in insult to the ground staff of airline companies throughout Australia. This has not occurred in Western Australia which, of all States in Australia, has taken a fairly practical view of the licensing laws. There has been absolutely no abuse of the arrangement there. I visit that airport regularly as a traveller between the eastern States and Western Australia. Even on a Sunday in the middle of summer you will never see more than seven or eight people in the bar although you would expect it to be crowded.

The trouble with licensing laws in Australia has been that the people and politicians have been too frightened of a vocal minority in the community. If a man wants to get intoxicated he can get intoxicated, regardless of the licensing laws of any State. The only way to decrease the incidence of intoxication in the community is to liberalize the licensing laws. The best example of that is in Canberra. Here there is a strange law. compared with the laws of the other States. Clubs have a 24-hour franchise and any club manager in Canberra will tell you that there has been less intoxication in the community since the 24-hour franchise was introduced.

Except in the case of alcoholism, intoxication is an economic problem. Every man has a certain amount of money which he can spend on liquor. If the hours during which he can spend that money are extended the chances of his becoming intoxicated are reduced. This argument is based on sound reasoning. What other State would countenance the liquor laws applying in South Australia where even a person who has just come to reside in a hotel from somewhere else almost has to get a justice of the peace to witness his signature in order to get a glass of beer after hours? That is trying to turn the clock back. As I travel far moTe by air than any other member of this House I think I am entitled to express an opinion on what I think air travellers should be offered.

Mr Bryant - You might travel more than other members, but you may not spend more time at airports.

Mr CHANEY - Most other members can fly home from Canberra in an hour or two but my trip takes 12 or 14 hours. The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant), once he reaches Melbourne airport, can proceed straight home. I am sometimes forced to stay for two hours at that aerodrome awaiting a connexion. I think that I should be entitled, if I wish, to spend that couple of hours sitting at a table in comfortable surroundings and enjoying a glass of ale with somebody else. I think it is up to the Government to improve the facilities at every airport in Australia. Everybody says that this wonderful country should be an attraction to tourists.

I think that the opposition to this bill has no sincerity at all. We talk about Australia attaining various stages of nationhood at certain dates in our history; but if we do not accept the sort of things that are accepted in other nations of the world we have no right to call ourselves a nation. Anybody who criticizes an attempt by the Government to bring our aerodrome facilities up to the level of those at overseas airports is not being sincere.

I support the bill wholeheartedly in the belief that the great majority of the Australian public have sufficient confidence in the people that conduct our airlines, the people that fly them, the people that service them and the people that use them, to realize that they face no danger as a result of the extension of facilities at airports which are already available at the airport of the city which 1 represent in this Parliament.

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