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Thursday, 24 September 1981
Page: 1765


Mr CHARLES JONES —Mr Deputy Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?


Mr CHARLES JONES —Yes.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —The honourable member may proceed. I remind the honourable member that he needs to apply himself to precisely where he was misrepresented.


Mr CHARLES JONES —In the statement which has just been made, the Minister for Transport (Mr Hunt) on at least two occasions misrepresented me by stating:

The fact of the matter is that since the early 1970's the total numbers of air traffic controllers in Australia have increased from just over 1,000 to the present level of 1,156.

Later in his statement he said:

There is no doubt that we are now experiencing the low level of trainees who commenced their training during 1974, 1975 and 1976.

At an Estimates committee hearing last week, the Minister also attacked me on the same issue. He then used his numbers on the committee, as he is doing today, to adjourn the debate so that I could not make a personal explanation. This is the first opportunity that I have had after the Minister made this distorted statement. I was going to say 'this untruthful statement'. Mr Deputy Speaker, it is untruthful but I know that you would not allow me to say that so I will refrain from doing so.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member will apply himself to where he has been misrepresented.


Mr CHARLES JONES —I suggest to the Minister that he should go back to his Department. Last Thursday he presented to the Estimates committee which was dealing with the Department of Transport, a table of which, thanks to him, I have a copy. Once again, this table is a distortion of the facts. It is an incorrect statement.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —The honourable member will not debate the issue.


Mr CHARLES JONES —I am not debating it.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —The honourable member will apply himself to where he has been misrepresented.


Mr CHARLES JONES —I am trying to show where I was misrepresented. The Minister showed the strength of air traffic controllers as being 1,020 in 1974. He quoted a figure continuously today which indicated that the strength of the Department in that area is 1,156. But when one compares the two figures the answer is only 996. A note on the bottom of this table states:

2. Figures after June 1980 include Flight Data.

The only conclusion that I can come to is that the figures prior to 1980 did not include flight data. Therefore, the true figure-this is where it is an untruthful statement-of the strength of the Department in 1980 was 1,021 and not 1,144, as against a figure of 1,020 in 1974 and 1,039 in 1975. The estimated figure for 1981 is 996, plus 160 flight data staff which obviously were not included in the figure prior to 1980. This is what the table shows. This is one of the instances where the facts have been distorted.

When the Minister prepares statements such as the one that he has just delivered to the Parliament he should not just pick a year and say: 'This is the fault of inadequate training from early 1974 onwards'. He should go back to his Department and ask his Department what is the position. The Department would tell him. I went back to his Department to check out his figures. In the years 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973 and 1974 the number of people trained was in accordance with the recommendations of the Department of Transport. An adequate number of staff was trained to meet the requirements of air traffic control. The Minister should not come into this place and appear before an Estimates committee and make misleading statements. That is what he has done. He has made misleading statements. Those are the facts. I refer the Minister--


Mr Hunt —Mr Deputy Speaker, I take a point of order. The honourable members is debating the matter. I wish also to make a personal explanation.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —I once again remind the honourable member for Newcastle that he must not debate the issue. He must apply himself strictly to those sections of the Minister's statement where he has been misrepresented and explain those points.


Mr CHARLES JONES —Mr Deputy Speaker, with due respect to you, I am endeavouring to do that. I then have to show where the Minister misrepresented me and then prove my point.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —No. The honourable member will make sure he shows where the Minister has misrepresented him and then explain what he claims to be the correct position.


Mr CHARLES JONES —The statement of the Minister is blown out by his former colleague the Minister for Transport, Mr Peter Nixon. At page 361 of Hansard of 16 August 1978, he said:

I repeat: I have confidence in my Department of Transport and its operations officers, which include air traffic--


Mr Wilson —Mr Deputy Speaker, I raise a point of order. I ask you to indicate the extent to which the honourable member is claiming that he has been misrepresented. I have been listening and I was wondering whether there was a limit to the extent to which he can debate the generality of the matter rather than to point to the circumstances in which he claims to be misrepresented.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —When the honourable member for Newcastle first started to make his explanation, I deliberately noted the two sections of the Minister's statement to which he referred. The first section states: 'The fact of the matter is that since the early 1970s the total numbers of air traffic controllers in . . . ' et cetera. The last one is the third paragraph on page 3 of the speech circulated to honourable members. Those are the two sections which I understand the honourable member for Newcastle claims are misstatements and claims that he, at the time when he was Minister, was misrepresented. But I fully agree that the honourable member for Newcastle must apply himself strictly to where he was misrepresented and explain in his view what the real position is.


Mr CHARLES JONES —I am endeavouring to explain the true position. The present Minister is blaming the Ministers of 1974, 1975 and 1976 for inadequate numbers of staff being trained. As I stated, I checked this matter with the Department and the Department assured me that the numbers of people trained in those years were in accordance with the requirements of the Department. So the Minister in 1974-75-I was then the Minister-saw that the number of air traffic controllers as were required at that time were trained. I was not the Minister in 1976. That was when you mob with the collusion of Kerr and Fraser kicked us out.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member for Newcastle is not permitted to make a statement of that nature when trying to make a personal explanation, as he is well aware.


Mr CHARLES JONES —Thank you, sir. I will endeavour not to--


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —I think it is time the honourable member for Newcastle wound up his statement.


Mr CHARLES JONES —I just want to make one other point as to the facts. I refer the House to the Department of Transport annual report of 1974-75. At page 202, appendix 6 shows that the level of movement at domestic and international airports was 498,923 and, in the same year, general aviation aircraft movements at secondary capital city airports was 965,994. Using the same figures available to us unfortunates in the Opposition-later figures would be available to the Minister-according to page 164 of the 1979-80 annual report of the same Department there have been 499,112 more domestic and international aircraft movements, and general aviation movements have gone up to 1,331,406. So, in general aviation there is a demand for more traffic controllers because of increased operations. That is a matter for the Minister to pick up--


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member for Newcastle will come to order and resume his seat.