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Wednesday, 26 August 1981
Page: 821

Mr CHARLES JONES(8.16) —The Bill before the house is the Air Navigation (Charges) Amendment Bill. What concerns me about the second reading speech of the Minister for Transport (Mr Hunt) is not the information that it conveys to the Parliament but what it does not say. Unfortunately second reading speeches are becoming briefer. The second reading speech on this Bill works out at almost $1m a word in expenditure by the Department, excluding the table on the civil aviation cost recovery rate. The Parliament has been working towards full cost recovery for some years. It is pleasing to see that at least the international airlines are paying the full cost recovery. In fact, we are making a profit on them. I hope that the increase of 12 1/2 per cent in charges contained in this legislation will bring the cost recovery from trunk route operators to 100 per cent. After all, the Government is entitled to recoup those costs. The runways navigational aids and all the things that this legislation provides for in the long term, should be treated in the same way as railway tracks, the signalling system and railway infrastructure, and the costs incurred in road and sea transport. Why should not the airline operators pay the costs of providing the wherewithal to operate the runways, navigation aids, et cetera? Full cost recovery is justified. It is for that reason that the Labor Government initiated this measure in 1973. This Government is continuing it. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a table which spells out in clear terms the expenditure and revenue for two financial years.

Leave granted.

The table read as follows-

Actual Estimate Actual Estimate Revenue

1980-81 1981-82 Expenditure

1980-81 1981-82

Air navigation charges 95.9 115.8 Administrational and operational 240.9 276.7 Airport rentals and business concessions 35.8 37.0 Building and works 38.2 54.5 Other 10.2 11.0 Plant and equipment 11.7 17.7

Air transport subsidies .7 5.3

Aerodrome local ownership plan 4.2 9.6

Other .7 .9

141.9 163.8 296.4 364.7

154.5 200.9

Mr CHARLES JONES —I thank the Minister and the House. The figures are taken from Budget Paper No. 1. In 1980-81, actual revenue was $141.9m. Expenditure was $296.4m. The deficit was $154.5m. This year, the estimated revenue is $163.8m. The expenditure is $364.7m. The deficit is $200.9m. On that basis, the taxpayer is making a very substantial contribution towards the cost of civil aviation. The Parliament is entitled to be given a second reading speech in excess of a page and a half of Hansard. This is a major expenditure with which the Minister should have dealt in much greater detail so that the public could see where its money was going and what it was costing. In recent weeks we have had Press statements from the Minister for Transport showing the amount of money that is being expended on Brisbane Airport. In his statement of 19 August this year he said that $98m had been already approved for site preparation and that the Government had authorised a further $18.8m for the project. That sort of expenditure will be going on for quite some time to provide a new airport for Brisbane. Expenditure of quite substantial proportions, although not the type of expenditure in respect of Brisbane Airport, is to be provided for Adelaide and Perth airports.

Aviation is not a cheap industry. It is expensive, and a lot of money has to be poured into it. At the same time the people who use it have to be prepared to accept full responsibility for financing it. The Opposition does not oppose 100 per cent cost recovery for aviation, particularly on the international and domestic trunk routes, for the simple enough reason that it is the large aircraft-the Boeing 747s, the Boeing 727s, the DC10s and the Airbuses-that require long runways and heavy pavements to cope with the stresses that they apply to the airports when landing and taking off. They are the aircraft which really bring about the need for these major airports. For that reason more sympathetic consideration has to be given to the contribution of general aviation-the little blokes, the rural operations. If they were required to pay 100 per cent cost recovery, there would not be any general aviation aircraft or rural services operating. So, it is not an easy situation. For that reason I do not object to the proposition that the general aviation operators be required to pay only a limited percentage of the cost recovery.

Another matter which involves this Parliament is the question of airports. I was disappointed to find the Minister and a Country Party colleague bringing into this Parliament on Wednesday, 19 August, a week ago-on the eve of the New South Wales elections-a question regarding Sydney Airport. There is no mileage in it for the Minister and there is no mileage in it for us, because one has as bad a reputation and record as the other.

Mr Cadman —That is not right.

Mr CHARLES JONES —That is true. The honourable member for Mitchell should not buy into it, because I have documentary evidence here tonight. I have letters between me and a State Minister in August 1973. I have a statement I made in this place on 5 April 1973. I have a letter from the then Prime Minister to the then Premier of New South Wales in 1975. I have a report from the Department of Transport dated June 1975. I repeat: We are all in trouble on the score of Sydney Airport. The question is: How do we solve the problem? That is the question that should be looked at on a non-political basis.

Let us look at the record of governments in the mid-1960s. The then New South Wales Minister for Local Government conned the then Federal Minister for Civil Aviation, Sir Reginald Swartz, into agreeing that Towra Point was the most suitable site for a second airport in Sydney. The honourable member for Cook (Mr Dobie), the Deputy Speaker in the Chair at the moment, knows of the problems associated with that proposition. The then honourable member for Barton, Len Reynolds, knew of it and objected. The Opposition Whip, the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Les Johnson), really bucked his brand off when the proposition of Towra Point was thrown around. It was not until 1969 when I got the leak on it and let it go to Jack Gorton on the eve of his going overseas that he said it was not on because a federal election was due. So, that was Towra Point down the drain. Whitlam made sure it did not get up again by buying it and declaring it a national park. So there was Towra Point gone west. We can go on and on. We had trouble with Askin-I should probably give him his full title, Sir Robert Askin-when he was Premier of New South Wales. It did not matter a damn what decision one put up, the answer was no.

Mr Cadman —That is like Neville Wran.

Mr CHARLES JONES —No different from Wran. I told the honourable member that we all have a problem. For God's sake, get politics out of it, get down to the facts of life and try to solve it. These letters tell of the problems we had with politics. Every time we got to the point of making a decision, up came the old political warhorse. The only reason I did not pop a question to the Minister last Wednesday was that the Speaker would not give me the call to blow the whole thing again.

Mr Les Johnson —Weren't you going to put it at Galston?

Mr CHARLES JONES —I was not going to put it at Galston.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. J. D. M. Dobie) —Order! We have enough interjections coming from both sides of the House. While the Chair finds them interesting, he thinks the honourable member should speak to the Bill.

Mr CHARLES JONES —This is all relevant to the Bill, Mr Deputy Speaker. It is all tied up with air navigation charges. It is the air navigation charges that pay for these damned things.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —I was suggesting that the honourable member not answer interjections.

Mr CHARLES JONES —With due respect to you, Mr Deputy Speaker, where the air navigation charges are going to be spent is what it is all about. That is the name of the game. I ask you to look at the table. The item is buildings and works-$38m last year, $54m this year-and the works are airports. That is what I am talking about. We have to talk about airports and find solutions to their problems. As I said, I could go on and quote Whitlam's letter to Lewis of 24 September 1975 literally begging him to come up with some sites that we could look at in an impartial manner and at the same time saying to the Premier that the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party was completely and totally opposed to parallel runways at Sydney Airport. So there is nothing new in the Labor Party being opposed to parallel runways at Sydney Airport. I am not saying all the members of the Labor Party are opposed to them because I am satisfied that parallel runways can have the effect of deferring for a period the need to construct a fully operational Sydney airport that will cope with the requirements of Sydney for many years to come. That is the Jones attitude; it is not the Labor Party's policy. At the same time I draw attention to the fact that in 1975 the then Premier of New South Wales was told by the then Prime Minister of Australia that parallel runways were not on. I can show another report that says that that is correct-that there is an alternative to parallel runways. The permanent head of the Department, in a long report to me dated 25 July 1975, said:

A proposal currently being examined is for a short north south runway usable by STOL aircraft such as the DHC 7.

It would defer the need for a second airport to about the same year as a conventional close-spaced parallel runway-1995 or 1996.

I have not time to deal wih the matter in detail, but for some time in this place I have proposed that stubby runways be built at Sydney Airport. That is the advice to me from experienced airport operators, such as men of the class of the former manager--

Mr Hunt —Crampton.

Mr CHARLES JONES —Reg Crampton, who was a great supporter of the stubbies and the open-V after I had discussed the thing with him. Stubbies can solve the problem for a short time. But we as a parliament have to come back to the issue, as I said a while ago, that the problem of Sydney Airport will be solved only when we can get it out of the political arena. Many things have been done when political parties have got issues out of the political arena. Honourable members should look at the great progress that was made by the Victorian Parliament when it got road safety out of the political arena. Compulsory wearing of seat belts and random breath testing have saved thousands of lives in the short time the measures have been operating. That is the only way that we will get anywhere with this measure.

I am concerned about the decision to grant approval to Ansett Airlines to operate B737s and B767s instead of forcing it to use wide-bodied jets. As far back as 1974 pressure was put on Ansett to bring down recommendations and make decisions on the early introduction of wide-bodied jets. Wide-bodied jets would help reduce the congestion that exists over Sydney Airport and would put back the need for a second Sydney airport. But no, the actions of this Government in the last week of the previous session in relation to the arch corporate crook Murdoch-I refer to the three Bills which went through this Parliament-netted that man and his company about $25m.

Mr Hodgman —Mr Deputy Speaker, I raise a point of order.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. Ian Robinson) —Order! The honourable member for Newcastle will resume his seat. I call the Minister for the Capital Territory.

Mr Hodgman —I take the fundamental point of order that the honourable member has just made an imputation involving an allegation of criminal practice against a person. The honourable member would well know that the proper way to do that, if it has to be done, is by a substantive notice of motion. I submit that you, Mr Deputy Speaker, should call upon him to withdraw the remarks. I do not know Mr Murdoch and I have no contact with him, but I will not sit in this Parliament and hear the honourable member for Newcastle making statements which are out of order.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! There is no point of order.

Mr CHARLES JONES —Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. I know the propositions which Mr Murdoch put to our Cabinet. When he was unsuccessful he set about destroying the Whitlam Labor governments in 1975 and 1977. Government members paid him off in the last week of the autumn session of this Parliament by passing Bills that were worth $25m to him. So honourable members opposite are just as bad as he is.

Mr Hodgman —I raise a point of order. Mr Deputy Speaker, you did not direct the honourable member for Newcastle to withdraw the remark regarding a certain person being a corporate crook. He is now imputing bribery on the part of this Government. That clearly is contrary to the Standing Orders.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! There is no point of order.

Mr Hodgman —Why not?

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —There is no point of order under the Standing Orders. I counsel the honourable member for Newcastle to moderate his approach. I think the result will be in the interests of the House.

Mr CHARLES JONES —Yes, Mr Deputy Speaker, it is on the record. I return to my remarks about Sydney Airport. The airlines should have been forced into the wide-bodied jet. Even at this point, with the congestion that has reached serious proportions, the two airlines should be required to share the time and space available. If Trans Australia Airlines wants to operate air buses which carry 269 passengers and Ansett wants to operate 737s with a capacity of 102, 767s with a capacity of 216 or B727s with a capacity of 150 let them do so, but Ansett should get the same access to the airport as TAA is given. If the Government is fair dinkum-I question whether it is-that is what it will do.

I refer now to the takeover of Masling Airlines, the commuter service between Newcastle and Sydney by, once again, the corporate monsters, Murdoch and Sir Peter Abeles. I have no great bitch about Sir Peter Abeles. I think he is a pretty good businessman; it is the other fellow who needles me. I am in the happy position to point out that on 21 November 1980 I objected to the takeover of Aeropelican Intercity Commuter Air Services Pty Ltd by Masling, so my question is not one of politics. I want to see some degree of competition in the commuter industry in Newcastle instead of what we have at the moment, a monopoly by Ansett Transport Industries with its ownership of Masling and Aeropelican. I call on the Minister to do something positive. In the main these people are using public facilities that are financed by this appropriation of air navigation charges. This year they will cost the taxpayer over $200m. I want to see this Government carry out its policies of competition and free enterprise, in the market-place. If the Government is fair dinkum-honourable member opposite can nod-it will force Ansett Transport Industries to disgorge the ownership of these two companies and let them operate singly.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. Ian Robinson) —Order! The honourable member's time has expired.