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Thursday, 30 September 1971
Page: 1819

Mr SWARTZ (Darling Downs) (Minister for National Development) - When I introduced the second reading of this Bill on behalf of my colleague the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) in another place I referred to the primary purpose of the Bill being to obtain parliamentary approval for Australia to ratify a protocol of the International Civil Aviation Organisation and also a number of other matters relating to the extension of the membership of the council and other matters associated with ICAO's operations. The debate has ranged far and wide, not only covering the amendment that was moved by the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) but also principally governing the matter relating to the debate on a statement which I made also on behalf of the Minister for Civil Aviation a week or so ago concerning the development of a second airport for Sydney.

I know that this is a matter that causes great concern to honourable members whose electorates are in the area. I can understand their position. In view of the fact that there was a full-scale debate on this matter just recently and the various points were answered at the time, I will not deal with this again now. The honourable member for Newcastle referred very briefly to the main Bill and then introduced his amendment. He dealt with the amendment very substantially. He referred to a number of accidents and incidents that have occurred in various places. Some of them occurred at the Sydney (KingsfordSmith) Airport. The honourable member was critical not only of the standard of investigation but also of the time taken for inquiries into these accidents or incidents. I draw his attention to the fact, although he knows it too well, that the air safety investigation branch of the Department of Civil Aviation, under the direction of the DirectorGeneral of Civil Aviation in Australia, has a world-wide reputation. I know from previous association with the Department that the standard is regarded as about the highest in the world.

The investigators are regarded highly by other countries and the reports, when they are eventually produced, are considered to be of a standard which is not bettered by any other investigating team in the world. This is something of which we should be proud, not critical. Again we should not be critical of the time it takes to conduct these full and thorough investigations, even if it is a matter of months, as happened in the 2 cases that were referred to by the honourable member for Newcastle. I think this is essential. I would not like to inhibit the operations of the air safety investigation branch in any way at all by putting restrictions or time limits on its operations. The honourable member for Newcastle would be the first to admit that this should not be done. I think that that suitably answers the matter which the honourable member raised regarding the standard of the investigation and the time factor that was involved. He went further to refer to the landing aids that are provided at Sydney airport and inferred that these were inadequate and unsuitable for operations of modern jet aircraft, particularly the 747. The position is that runways 07 and 16 at Sydney are equipped with instrument landing systems. Runway 34 has the T-VASIS. and runway 25 has a T-VASIS in addition to a VASIS red-white system. These aids are at least equal to the landing aids provided at other international airports throughout the world.

This is the system that is provided not only in Sydney but also at the other major airports in Australia. I may say with pride that the development of this type of instrument landing system, which is regarded so highly throughout the world, has been principally an Australian development. No modification is required to the T-VASIS system to make it suitable for the operation of long bodied aircraft. A suggestion that instrument landing systems be installed wherever physically possibly and irrespective of cost cannot be supported on operational grounds. The cost would be prohibitive also. In addition, as I mentioned, the T-VASIS systems on the runways where they have been installed are up to a standard which is quite suitable and adequate for the purpose.

The honourable member for Newcastle also indicated his belief that Pan Am has not been advised regarding the use of the T-VASIS system as being suitable for Boeing 747 aircraft. In September 1970, prior to the United States operation of Boeing 747 aircraft into this country, the Department of Civil Aviation forwarded a letter to Pan Am detailing how the T-VASIS may be used by long bodied aircraft. Although Pan Am airways route manual contains a diagram of the T-VASIS system, it is understood that this aid in many cases has not been used by its pilots. But on 12th August 1971 Pan Am's Senior

Vice-President for Operations visited Melbourne and received a detailed briefing from the Director-General of Civil Aviation in Australia on the operation of this system. So again I completely refute the idea that the instrument landing systems and the T-VASIS system, which is principally an Australian development, are not up to the standard required for long bodied aircraft. In fact they are up to that standard and are so being used.

I refer very briefly to the question of a so-called new agreement between the United States and Australia. There is no new agreement between the United States and Australia. There is an agreement which, as I stated the other day, was signed by the previous Labor Government back in 1946. It is a Bermuda-type agreement, an open-ended type of agreement, and although its operation has been relatively satisfactory from our point of view over the years, if there is any criticism regarding the open-ended arrangement whereby either country can claim additional frequencies in or out of the country concerned, it is the responsibility of the previous Labor Government.

Mr Charles Jones - .YOU have been the Government for 23 years.

Mr SWARTZ - This is the agreement that was signed by the previous Labor Government and which is still in operation. There is no way in which that agreement can be changed unless we signify the termination of it, and of course we do not want to do that. The position is that some new arrangements have been made under this Bermuda-type agreement whereby in future there will be control by the governments - the United States Government and the Australian Government - over capacity on the Pacific route for the first time. This is a very big step forward in the control of capacity in this region. The honourable member for Newcastle suggested that the Civil Aeronautics Board would be the body that would control it. I indicated the other day that this is not so. It will in future be controlled by the Government. Once it goes through the board in the United States and the Department of Civil Aviation here, it will be referred to the Department of State in the United States and to the Minister here. If there is any dispute, both governments will exchange information on it. In other words, it will be arranged on a government to government basis and not as at present on an official basis or arranged by airlines. This is the biggest breakthrough that has taken place since this agreement was signed back in 1946. I referred also to what had been achieved in maintaining the status quo so far as capacity is concerned on the Pacific route, for a period of 18 months up to 1st December next, and after that the traffic arrangements to which 1 shall refer in a moment will apply. But during this period of 18 months when the status quo has been maintained there will be an increase in traffic of approximately 18 per cent. So again that indicates that there is not much point in the argument that has been put forward by the Opposition.

To further support the position and to indicate what the arrangement will be after 1st December, let us look very quickly at the capacity figures prior to this agreement. At the present time Qantas Boeing 747 operations are nil, its Boeing 707 flights number up to 11, and it has 2 Boeing 707 freighters. Pan Am has two 747s and five 707s. American Airlines has no 747s and three 707s. After 1st December 1971 the airlines will be able by this agreement to operate the following services: Qantas, four 747s and three 707s; Pan Am, three 747s and four 707s; American Airlines, no 747s and five 707s. That indicates that there is a rationalisation as far as capacity is concerned which is not to the disadvantage of Australia.

I would like to go a little further to indicate that the people who are directly involved in this and who perhaps have the greatest interest believe that this new arrangement is a significant breakthrough. I would like to quote 2 paragraphs of a letter from the Australian Tourist Commission dated 27th September 1971. The opening paragraph states:

The Australian Tourist Commission believes that a most significant break-through has occurred in the new Australian-American air agreement on Pacific frequencies and in the imminent prospect of a new agreement on charter flights.

Another paragraph stated:

It is a reasonable assumption that the increased capacity should be quickly absorbed by the high growth rate particularly of US visitors to Australia which for the year ending 30th June was up 42 per cent.

In view of the time factor, with the conconcurrence of honourable members I incorporate in Hansard the remainder of this letter to save reading it out at this point of time. 27 September 1971

The Editor

Dear Sir,

The Australian Tourist Commission believes that a most significant break-through has occurred in the new Australian-American air agreement on Pacific frequencies and in the imminent prospect of a new agreement on charter flights.

The Commission has advocated for some time increased frequencies on the route, particularly for direct flights into Melbourne and to tap more traffic from the eastern and mid-western regions of the United States which together represent the biggest travel market in the world.

We are concerned by some suggestions during the last week that the air agreement was a surrender to the United States and against our best interests.

We believe this to be a short-sighted view.

We believe that the Australian delegation led by the Director-General of Civil Aviation, Sir Donald Anderson, and which included the General Manager of Qantas, Capt. R. J. Ritchie, faced up realistically to the rapidly changing situation in international civil aviation and the opportunities available to us as a country for large-volume, lower-fare traffic.

The delegation secured an important new position for Australia. It has for the first time negotiated an agreement which can put the Pacific frequencies under review on a governmenttogovernment basis.

We see this as a considerable protection in the national interest enabling the Australian Government to intervene if necessary to ensure the viability of Qantas as our international carrier.

The agreement removes the uncertainty which has so long existed and enables orderly development.

It is a reasonable assumption that the increased capacity should be quickly absorbed by the high growth rate particularly of US visitors to Australia which for the year ending 30th June was up 42 per cent.

We are already seeing evidence of marketing campaigns involving millions of dollars being spent by, US carriers in North America to increase the flow of tourist traffic to this area. Qantas, also a substantial promoter in the North American market and a large provider of the regular frequencies to this area, must gain in the long run from the additional traffic that we believe will certainly be generated.

The Commission has informed the Department of Civil Aviation of its full support in the establishment of a Qantas charter subsidiary. We also welcome the prospect of bilateral exchanges of charter rights which will enable charter operators to bring here a new type of tourist business.

Unlike other long-haul destination countries in Africa and Asia, Australia has so far missed out on this vast charter market. Its development here will act as a badly-needed spur to our tourism and will further highlight the need for special assistance - as is the case in other countries - to encourage the building of more international-class hotels and to bring our resorts and attractions up to world standard.

Basil G. Atkinson General Manager

Australian Tourist Commission Melbourne.

I thank the honourable member for Newcastle for his consideration in respect of this incorporation. I will finish on that note and indicate again that in view of what I have said we do not believe that the amendments moved by the Opposition are necessary. Therefore, they are not acceptable to the Government.

Question put:

That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr Charles Jones' amendment) stand part of the question.

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