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Thursday, 1 March 1984
Page: 205


Senator MESSNER(11.36) —I rise in respect of the report of the Department of Aviation for the 1982-83 financial year to make some further comment about the general level of air safety in this country. It is a matter to be greatly prized by Australia that we have a very high level of air safety at all levels, whether that applies to commercial aviation or to general aviation and to the use of such equipment as helicopters and what have you. Clearly, a very high degree of attention has been paid to that by successive governments. The report, on page 27, points out the activities of the flying unit in respect of maintaining that very high level of support and standards at airports in Australia so as to make sure that navigational aids and various equipment used for the guidance of aircraft in this country are maintained at the highest possible standards.

I have one concern about the reference in the report to the flying unit which, as honourable senators know, provides aircraft to travel around Australia and check the operation of navigational aids at airports, and the calibration of that equipment, to ensure that it is operating properly. These aircraft are properly fitted out with suitable equipment in order to do that. I am a little concerned to know-and perhaps the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Senator Button) will be able to ascertain the answer from the Minister for Aviation (Mr Beazley)-whether any economy measures have been introduced in the Department of Aviation which have reduced the operation of the aircraft that undertake this kind of work. I have some information, which disturbs me, as to cutbacks in this area, and I wonder whether that is correct information. At some stage I would like to have the Minister's assurance that there is no likelihood that air safety may be affected adversely by those kinds of economy measures undertaken by the Government.