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Tuesday, 9 May 1972
Page: 1493

Senator BYRNE asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:

(1)   In the case of an attempted take-over of an Australian domestic airline operator by another company, what general authority, resides in the Department of Civil Aviation or the Minister, to affect the outcome of such a manoeuvre.

(2)   What, if any, approval, permission or assent is required from the Department, or the Minister, to (a) the transfer of the operator's licence, (b) the hypothecation of contract, (c) the transfer of assets and (d) the transfer of franchises, licences, etc.. for the use of airport facilities.

(3)   Does the Department require any proof of administrative or economic competence in the prospective new operator.

(4)   Will the Minister prepare and lay down a paper detailing the role which the Department or the Minister is by law required to play, and also the roles they may play by the exercise of Departmental or Ministerial discretion.

Senator COTTON The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1)   Thereis no specific provision in the Air Navigation Regulations or any other legislation administered by the Department of Civil Aviation which directly, empowers the Minister or the Department to prevent the takeover of a company holding an airline licence under the Regulations.

(2)   (a) In the normal case of a takeover of a company there is no change in the legal entity which holds the licence, but only a change in the persons holding shares in or controlling that company. Airline licences issued under the Regulations are not transferable and, inthe case of a company takeover, the licence would normally remain in the name of the company taken over.

(b)   The reference to hypothecation of contract is not clearly understood in this context.

(c)   No permission or consent of the Department of Civil Aviation or the Minister is required in the case of the transfer of assets of an airline, except in the case of TAA. Section 21 of the Australian National Airlines Act requires the approval of the Minister for the disposal of any property right or privilege by the Commission where its value exceeds $100,000.

(d)   Leases of land and buildings within airports to airlines and other tenants usually contain a convenant by the tenant that he will not sub-let, assign or part with the possession of the premises, except with the consent of the Director-General of Civil Aviation. The legislation in some States provides that such a clause must be read as meaning that the consent of the landlord cannot be unreasonably withheld. Airline operators are entitled to the use of other airport facilities, such as runways, taxi-ways and navigational aids, by virtue of their payment of air navigation charges and they cannot be denied the use of those facilities.

(3)   In relation to the issue of an operating licence, the Director-General is required to take into account the following matters:

(a)   Interstate Operations -

Whether the applicant has complied with or has established that he is capable of complying with the provisions of the Air Navigation Regulations, or any direction or order given or made under those Regulations, relating to the safety of operations:

(b)   Intrastate Operations -

Matters concerned with the safety, regularity and efficiency of air navigation and to no other matters;

(c)   Operations within, to, or from a Territory,

Whether the applicant has complied with such conditions as the Director-General considers necessary.

In considering the matters referred to above, the Director-General would have regard to the administrative or economic competence of the prospective operator insofar as this impinged on these matters.

(4)   The matter of Ministerial and departmental discretions is a far-reaching subject which would require considerable research and time to study in detail. Unfortunately, the resources needed to engage in an investigation of this nature cannot be made available at present, but the request will be borne in mind and considered for implementation when the opportunity occurs.

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