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Thursday, 7 May 1970

Mr REID (Holt) - I wish to raise a matter which concerns me and, I am sure, the general public. Pilots employed by Qantas Airways Ltd again unjustifiably stopped work last week. The reason given is (hat they are being victimised and that their superannuation claims have not been met. I am sure there are few people who would sympathise with them. Their latest exercise shows complete contempt for the travelling public. I strongly condemn their actions. After all, pilots are well paid. A senior Boeing 707 pilot receives a guaranteed minimum salary of $18,700 per annum and works fewer hours than anyone else for it. [ am sure thousands of ex-Royal Australian Air Force pilots have read with complete disgust of the recent strike for increased benefits. If pilots are to receive greater remuneration it is reasonable that they should put in a greater effort for it. Pilots should realise that they are not the only ones who accept responsibility. There are many people who have far greater responsibilities at nowhere near the salary which pilots draw. With all of the modern navigational and safety aids available in aircraft a pilot's responsibility has been considerably reduced in the last 10 years. Further strike action by Qantas pilots must considerably reduce their prestige and would just about bring them into the same category as engine drivers.

Mr Bryant - What is wrong with that? What is wrong with engine drivers? There is 1 in the Chair now, namely, the honourable member for Corio.

Mr REID - I might add - supporting the honourable member's remarks - that engine drivers also accept responsibilities. The Qantas pilot strike in 1966 cost $13m and any such repeat performance could be disastrous to our national airline. It would certainly not enable the airline to introduce cheaper fares for the travelling public; this is what the pilots should be working towards. If pilots take further strike action Qantas should consider cancelling its order for Jumbo aircraft, purchase a fleet of second-hand Constellations and make the pilots earn their money. We cannot afford such luxuries as strikes today, particularly from such a privileged group as pilots, whilst so many millions of people throughout the world need succour. The position in many overseas countries where some 10,000 people die each day from hunger and neglect is appalling, and far more must be done to help these impoverished people. The point that I am making here is that the Qantas pilot strike in 1966, which cost $13m, would probably have fed 100,000 people in India for 6 months. I think it is about time pilots realised they are a privileged group and should endeavour to look a little beyond their own self-interests. I am sure I speak for the majority of the public in condemning the unjustifiable strike last week.

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