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Thursday, 4 June 1987
Page: 3998

Mr LLOYD —My question is directed to the Minister for Aviation. The Minister will be aware that the earliest time for the three years notice to be given for the termination of the two airlines agreement, 26 January 1987, is almost five months behind us, and the earliest date for any significant change to domestic aviation regulatory arrangements is fast approaching 1991. Why is the Government wasting so much time in announcing the new arrangements, particularly when the Minister has been so critical of the present arrangements? Is the Minister intending to make an announcement before the election? If so, when? Will the Minister, as part of any announcement, also declare that any proposed change which amounts to less than the complete termination of the two airlines agreement will not be acceptable to the incoming Liberal- National Party Government?

Mr PETER MORRIS —I said earlier in the week that the existing set of arrangements is the result of the efforts of those who now sit opposite. It is the height of political expediency to be critical of the existing arrangements and then duck off and say: `We shouldn't have had those arrangements at all'. They have been there for over 30 years as a result of previous conservative governments.

Mr Smith —We have heard that for four years. Tell us something new.

Madam SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member for Bass will not interject like that again.

Mr Smith —Maiden question.

Mr PETER MORRIS —Maiden question, was it? I thought for a moment that there was a stranger in the House. As I was saying, the arrangements in this country exist because of successive conservative governments over decades.

Mr Porter —Oh, come on!

Mr PETER MORRIS —It happens to be a fact. I know that honourable members opposite do not like the truth. We saw considerable debate during the run-up period to the renewal of the last agreement, particularly during the early part of 1981. At that time the Liberal Party was sharply split with all sorts of divisions and was in the same kind of turbulence and disarray that we now see in the conservative parties. Around the nation there is agreement that this Government has been the most able economic manager in the history of Federation. When this Government implements changes in direction it ensures that there is proper consultation with the people affected by those changes. There was an agreement which the National Party strongly supported and was responsible for, but we decided to seek the views of the community on what was the most appropriate set of arrangements; and we have done that. As soon as the report was received it was released to the public for further comment. The closing date for that comment was 31 March. There has been a considerable number of responses to the May report and its five options. Those responses are being assessed and the matter is still being considered by the Government. When we consider the manner in which those who now sit opposite operated in respect of domestic aviation I think that this Government's performance is by far more credible, and certainly we will not be embarking on the kind of processes that members opposite followed in government.