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Tuesday, 11 April 1972
Page: 986

Senator COTTON (New South WalesMinister for Civil Aviation) - Senator Murphy advised me not so long ago, I think he would agree, that he intended to raise this matter. That makes it extremely difficult for me to be detailed in my answer. I did note the comment in the Sydney 'Daily Mirror'. I knew that Qantas Airways Ltd and its pilots had been negotiating for some time on salary rates for pilots. I will give Senator Murphy the information that I have at the moment, add a little to it and get some more. The statement in the 'Daily Mirror' was that the basic pay increase claims range from 38 per cent to 58 per cent which, with navigational allowances, would bring the total increases to between 51 per cent and 72 per cent. I was very interested and pleased to learn that the attitude expressed by Senator Murphy was that this was an exorbitant and irrational kind of demand in the total circumstances confronting international operators, particularly Qantas. Qantas is not in dire financial circlmstances, but it is in a tight and difficult operating time, in company with most international airlines. It is not without moment to point out to my honourable colleagues that PanAmerican World Airways, having had substantial losses last year and losses again in January, reported a $12m loss for February. So it is not an easy business at present. Without any doubt all honourable senators will welcome the support of the Opposition in doing what we can to keep the cost of this business within bounds.

The honourable senator asked for comparative salary rates. 1 shall obtain these for him. J am trying to find this information. I did not have enough time to do so. In response to a question by a particular senator about 12 or 18 months ago - I thought it was Senator Murphy, but it may not have been - we did supply a range of salaries for various years of seniority for various kinds of pilots. I am trying to turn up that information.

Senator Murphy - Will you produce especially the rates of wages paid to the lower paid employees of Qantas?

Senator COTTON - I will get this for the honourable senator. It will take some time. Before resuming my seat I would like to make one or two observations. Pilots have always seemed to me to be extraordinarily well paid. Pilots in Australia, by comparison with people in other forms of gainful employment in this country, certainly have what might be called a premium rate of pay. But it has to be observed also that their rate of pay is nowhere near as high as that received by comparable pilots in other parts of the world, whether that is right or wrong. What the honourable senator requires is specific information on various levels of pilots flying various types of aircraft after various years of service. We will get that. Senator Wood interjected, and Senator Murphy took up the point of retirement benefits for air crew, including pilots. We will get information on that also.

Senator Milliner - Is there any Canberra allowance?

Senator COTTON - Probably not, but there could well be. On the rates of pay quoted, they might not need it. When the honourable senator talks about disputes with technical air crew he will understand that in the end these are referred to the Flight Crew Officers Industrial Tribunal - Mr Justice Coldham - which deals with the disputes. 1 do not think I can say anything more than that, except that I treat the inquiry as a valid one. I will get in detail as soon as I can the information required.

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