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Wednesday, 3 October 1984
Page: 1556

Mr SHIPTON(12.34 a.m.) —At the outset of my contribution to the debate on the Qantas Airways Ltd (Loans Guarantee) Bill 1984, the Air Navigation ( Charges) Amendment Bill 1984 and the Air Navigation Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1984 I would like to respond to some of the comments that were made by the honourable member for Herbert (Mr Lindsay), who has just resumed his seat. I thought that the honourable member showed great enthusiasm in saying that the 767 aircraft which are the subject of the Qantas Airways (Loan Guarantee) Bill would be operating in and out of Townsville. I notice that the honourable member has left the chamber. Perhaps he does not want to hear what I have to say. However, I want the people of Townsville to be clear about this. I understand that it is Government policy that Qantas will use Cairns. Qantas has advertised some very successful cheap fares from the west coast of the USA to Cairns. Those flights, which have been booked out, do not land at Townsville. Perhaps the honourable member for Herbert went a little too far when he said that Townsville is going to be the centre of things as far as Qantas operations in North Queensland are concerned. I hope that the people of Townsville will realise that that is not so .

I wish to comment on the legislation relating to Qantas Airways. The new Boeing 767 extended range aircraft will give Qantas greater flexibility and, one hopes, improved operating capacity and economies on the less heavily trafficked routes in and around the Pacific and Asian region of Australia. I refer particularly to the Asian and South East Asian regions because they have enormous potential. I think that Qantas should have made this decision 10 years ago. In fact, Qantas has been caught short because its larger long range aircraft had the capacity to overfly the nearer regions. However, it was considered uneconomic to fly to them and Qantas lost its market share.

In the context of the United States of America, I believe that Qantas is vital to Australia's success in that market. The House is aware of Paul Hogan's brilliant North American promotion and the Opposition fully supports his program . It is most successful in putting Australia in the forefront of people's minds, firstly on the west coast of the United States and now on the east coast. Paul Hogan is a great Australian and doing a great job for Australia. I wish I could say the same of the Minister for Sport, Recreation and Tourism (Mr John Brown) who is trying to ride on Mr Hogan's back. As Paul Hogan himself recently said, his objective is to create in the American consciousness an image of Australia. Therefore, the Minister must concentrate on actually getting passengers sitting on aeroplane seats on aircraft coming in and out of Australia.

On the subject of Qantas and the Australian Tourist Commission's campaign to get passengers to travel to Australia, I wish to refer to some advertising that is being placed in the United States. Air New Zealand, a rival of Qantas, has a prime time advertisement on Los Angeles television which says that Americans can visit New Zealand and the Pacific, as well as Australia, for the same price as a fare to Australia only. The advertisements show a picture of the Opera House, if my memory serves me correctly, then an Air New Zealand 747-not a Qantas aircraft , which is most regrettable-and the viewer is then taken on a trip round the Pacific. The Air New Zealand advertisement makes the point that it can all be done for the price of a single ticket on the airline.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! I think we are being taken for a bit of a trip on this Bill too.

Mr SHIPTON —With great respect, Mr Speaker, the honourable member for Herbert had the indulgence of the Chair to range widely about the advantages of Qantas and the Bill to tourism.

Mr SPEAKER —The honourable member must relate his remarks to Qantas Airways.

Mr SHIPTON —I am relating my argument to Qantas because Air New Zealand is pinching Qantas passengers by this almost false advertising. The point I am making is that the new Boeing 767s which are the subject of this legislation give Qantas the capacity to meet this campaign by Air New Zealand to poach United States passengers. A passenger travelling on Qantas cannot fly to New Zealand, around the Pacific and on to Australia if he is coming from the west coast of America. He would have to fly from the west coast, from either San Francisco or Los Angeles, to Australia. If the passenger wants to do New Zealand and the Pacific and wishes to travel to the same destinations offered by Air New Zealand on Qantas he has to take a side trip. It is to be hoped that with a combination of the new scheduling and the new 767s Qantas will be able to meet that market need. I understand that Qantas is losing passengers to Air New Zealand and to other airlines.

It is important for Qantas to be able to compete in the market place. It is still cheaper for many Australians to travel overseas than it is for them to travel at home. The recently announced cheap Qantas fares to China are evidence of that. It is cheaper to travel Qantas to China or to Fiji, Bali, Noumea and Vanuatu than to take holidays of an equivalent standard in Australia. I hope the Government will do something about that and that the Minister for Sport, Recreation and Tourism will fairly and squarely face that issue. I do not think it has been faced fairly and squarely by the Government to date. The honourable member for North Sydney (Mr Spender) so adequately spoke about the Air Navigation Amendment Bill (No. 2). I am pleased to support him in this debate and in the amendments he will move. I pay tribute to him. I see that the honourable member for Herbert has entered the chamber. Perhaps he will tell us why he is telling the people of Townsville that the 767s will be flying in and out of Townsville when it is government policy that they fly in and out of Cairns.

Mr Lindsay —You would not know what you are talking about.

Mr SHIPTON —The honourable member says that I would not know what I am talking about. I ask the Minister for Aviation (Mr Beazley) to tell the people of Townsville whether Qantas has permission, has the permits, and will be flying 767s in and out of Townsville. What are the dates, times and routes? Has permission been granted? The honourable member talked about flying from Townsville to Japan. Has Japan Airlines agreed with that? Has the Japanese Government agreed with that? The honourable member said that that will happen. The question of whether he is misleading the people of Townsville must be looked at seriously.

Mr Lindsay —You are the one misleading the people of Townsville.

Mr SHIPTON —I am not misleading anybody. The honourable member came into the House tonight and attempted to fool the people of Townsville because of the forthcoming election. I say that no permission has been granted and there have been no plans for the 767s to fly in and out of Townsville. Those are the facts, and the honourable member knows it.

Referring to the Air Navigation Amendment Bill, the honourable member for North Sydney made a good point in relation to interlining. Interlining, Mr Speaker, as you would know, is the practice of passengers arriving in Australia on one international airline and travelling on domestic routes in Australia which are covered by international airlines. Most people think of interlining as applying to Qantas because Qantas flies more domestic routes in Australia than any other international airline. Obviously, because it is Australia'a national airline, it has the equipment. However other international airlines do fly various sectors in Australia. I think British Airways flies across the continent. I could be wrong on that, but it does fly on domestic sectors, as does Air India. As I understand it, Air India is the only airline that can carry across Australia, passengers who arrive in Australia on other airlines. So if a passenger arrives in Australia on Qantas, British Airways, Malaysian Airline System, Cathay Pacific, Garuda or JAL, he can still fly an Air India sector across Australia under an interlining agreement and then leave by another international airline.

I raise the whole question of Qantas being able to interline. The new 767s do give the capacity to interline and compete with Australian domestic airlines. I would be interested in the reaction of the Minister. The honourable member for North Sydney pointed out that Air India has these rights. It is his understanding-I am not sure whether from the Minister or from the Department- that this legislation is not a back door method to stop that interlining. It would be very regrettable if that were so. It is my belief that interlining ought to be more readily available. This would enable more competition to take place. The hour is late, Mr Speaker. I thank the House for its indulgence. I support my colleague the honourable member for North Sydney in the amendments he has foreshadowed to the House.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.