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Tuesday, 15 October 1985
Page: 1231


Senator SIBRAA(4.09) —I move:

That the Senate take note of the paper.

I wish to speak on the Qantas Airways Ltd annual report for 1984-85 because on 11 October when the Senate debated the Qantas Airways Limited (Loan Guarantee) Bill 1985 Senator Sanders made a number of remarks with which I want to take issue. At the appropriate time I would like to deal with his speech at length. I take this opportunity to refute some of his arguments because the matters he raised do arise in the annual report. In Senator Sanders's speech the other day he said:

Qantas does have a fine safety record. For one thing, Qantas, like any other airline with a very good safety record, has been lucky. TAP Portugal used to be the safest airline in the world.

It had one crash at Tenerife and went to the bottom of the list.

What he said about TAP is wrong. I can supply statistics about that at a later date. It certainly had a crash. It was amongst the safest airlines in the world, but to say that it went to the bottom of the list is nonsense. Flight Inter- national, a very reputable civil aviation magazine, earlier this year concluded that Qantas was the safest airline in the world. It used a formula that took into account the miles flown, the passengers carried and the types of conditions in which it flew. I point out to Senator Sanders that Qantas operates in and out of European capitals in winter.

Senator Sanders also talked about cheaper fares and the benefits of deregulation. He cited certain United States fares, one of which was Los Angeles to Seattle. We have heard arguments before about the cost of air fares between places such as Los Angeles and San Francisco. He did not point out the huge population that is being served by the airlines in the United States. For example, California alone has 21 million people in an area roughly the size of the Sydney to Melbourne area. I believe that United States style deregulation could not operate in Australia. Senator Sanders did not mention that United States deregulation has meant cheaper fares for some people in some cities at some times.

More importantly, evidence is now coming to notice that deregulation has meant a decline in safety standards. In the United States there are now fewer air traffic controllers than before the air traffic controllers strike, fewer Federal Aviation Administration airline inspectors than before deregulation and the number of United States airlines operating large aircraft increased from 34 to 58 between 1978, when deregulation began, and 1983. That means that 24 more major airlines are operating in the United States. The number of commuter airlines has increased from 208 to 291 and the number of flights increased from five million to 5.4 million in that five-year period. Conclusions are now being drawn-these are not my conclusions but those of an article in the New York Times on 12 September entitled: `Concerns on air safety-questions and answers'-that safety standards are slipping because of increased competition and fare wars between the major operators.

I agree with Senator Sanders on one matter; that is, when he said that Qantas had applied to carry international passengers on domestic routes within Australia. We now have the ludicrous situation, for example, where a person can fly into Perth on British Airways and cannot continue travelling within this country on another international airline. That person must travel on a domestic airline. Qantas is the only airline in the world that has this disadvantage. If it were given permission to carry international passengers domestically within Australia-I do not mean domestic passengers, but those who have come from overseas-we would certainly see cheaper fares which would benefit tourism in Australia. Senator Sanders also made some remarks about Continental Airlines. I do not have time to talk about Continental's anti-union policies and the reasons why it still operates into Australia. I will be able to deal with that matter at a later stage.