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Wednesday, 11 September 1985
Page: 452

Senator CHILDS —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Aviation. Is the Minister aware of a decision by Qantas Airways Ltd to sell its Sydney headquarters? Will the Minister confirm that the price is in excess of $200m? Does the decision have the support of the Government?

Senator GIETZELT —It is true that Qantas has made a decision to sell its headquarters for a reported sum of $200m. The Government did signal its approval of an earlier proposal by Qantas to sell its national headquarters-I think it was in 1983-for a reported sum of $150m. Qantas now believes that it can increase that sum by approximately 33 per cent. Of course, that is a commercial decision which the independent organisation, the statutory authority that controls Qantas, can make in its own right. The reason behind the decision is to use the funds that are tied up in its investment in the building for the purpose of a major fleet expansion. I understand that Qantas is in the process of acquiring about $1 billion worth of new aircraft which will put it on a par with international standards. This is essential for our national airline.

I should point out to Senator Childs that since this Government came into office, as a result of the rather dramatic upturn in the Australian economy, both our national airlines, Trans Australia Airlines and Qantas, are reporting very satisfactory profitability on invested funds. This indicates that as public enterprises they are not only efficient and competent but also very profitable. Therefore, any decision made on a commercial basis to improve the efficiency of the organisation would, of course, be supported by the Government. I remind the Senate that Qantas, TAA and Ansett Airlines of Australia, as a result of the activities of the Department of Aviation, still maintain a very high record of safety in respect of aircraft movements.