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Tuesday, 6 December 1983
Page: 3284

Senator MESSNER(3.19) —I move:

That the Senate take note of the paper.

The latest report of Qantas Airways Ltd indicates a very significant loss of some $47.6m in this last year of operation. This result underscores the need for the airline to operate on a similar basis to those privately owned airlines which operate off-shore of Australia.

Senator Button —On the same basis as other international airlines?

Senator MESSNER —As other private international airlines. Whatever the position has been in the past, there is need to rethink what has happened and to plan policies for the future. It is fairly clear at this stage that the management of Qantas is taking that suggestion on board and is looking very closely at the reorganisation of its activities. Mr Jim Leslie, the Chairman of Qantas, has made the position clear in recent statements that that action is intended, and many processes have been set in train in order to achieve that aim. The management of Qantas must receive the congratulations of the Government and of the Opposition in respect of those actions.

The report does raise the question, which I think we ought to acknowledge and start to examine, whether there is sufficient freedom of operation at the management level for Qantas to take commercial type decisions in regard to the competition from overseas airlines from which it is suffering. For that reason I believe that the kinds of decisions we have seen in recent times, and which, according to the board of Qantas indicate a change of direction towards a more profitable level of operation, do indicate that there ought to be more consideration on the part of this Government of the need for freeing up Qantas's managment system. We have put that forward as a suggestion from the Oppostion, and hope that there will be a trend towards increasing autonomy in the operation of Qantas on the world scene. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.