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Tuesday, 26 November 1985
Page: 2235


Senator KILGARIFF(3.23) —I move:

That the Senate take note of the paper.

I wish to make a few brief comments on the tabling of the fourth annual report of the Independent Air Fares Committee. I note that, on page one of the report, there is a synopsis of the Committee's activities for the year, and at points two and three the following activities are listed:

Carried out public and private hearings during a cost allocation review of East-West Airlines (Operations) Ltd . . .

Determined a combined F27/F28 network economy fare formula for East-West which results in the rate per kilometre declining over longer distances.

I am sure that many air travellers have welcomed the entry of East-West Airlines Ltd into the market. The airline has offered `no frills' air transportation which has brought air travel within the reach of many who have found the cost of flying with the two major domestic airlines prohibitive. The news that East-West's fare formula reduces the rate per kilometre over longer distances is certainly encouraging for the people of Australia's more remote communities. But I find it rather ironic that, at a time when the Independent Air Fares Committee is carrying out reviews of East-West and working out a formula which reduces the cost per kilometre of travel over longer distances the airline is being threatened with the loss of two of its most lucrative routes, one of which is over a very long distance indeed. I refer to the Sydney-Yulara-Perth run; the other is the Sydney-Newcastle-Brisbane run. It seems that under a section of the two airlines agreement, only the two major airlines are permitted to fly trunk routes linking capital cities unless the Secretary of the Department of Aviation is satisfied that significant amounts of traffic are being generated between a third centre and each capital. I understand from a newspaper report that East-West has conceded the point on the Newcastle stopover and is attempting to establish a Sydney-Grafton-Brisbane run.

However, in regard to the Yulara route I must agree with the operators of East-West. They have poured considerable funds into the promotion of Yulara as a tourist destination to support the thrice-weekly service they offer. Yulara is a bold step which has brought international tourism to Ayers Rock, and the promotions of East-West have done much to contribute to the improvement of occupancy rates at the hotels and other accommodation facilities. In addition to the international tourists, East-West flights bring Australians from the east coast and from Perth direct to Ayers Rock, and I have sent telegrams to the Federal Minister for Transport and Minister for Aviation (Mr Peter Morris) and the Federal Minister for Sport, Recreation and Tourism (Mr John Brown) urging them to make a realistic decision on the continued flights by East-West to Ayers Rock. While it may have been true 33 years ago when the two-airline policy was first established that the Australian market could not support more than two operators, the success of East-West has shown that this is no longer the case, and the Federal Government should bear that fact in mind before it takes action to prevent East-West from flying its more lucrative routes. As I have indicated, I have sent telegrams to the Minister for Sport, Recreation and Tourism and to the Minister for Transport, the text of which is as follows:

Yulara has been a bold step in bringing international tourism literally overnight to Ayers Rock. It has attracted more than its share of critics. Despite this the village is in full operation and its occupancy numbers are viable and increasing. There is very good reason for optimism. Nevertheless promotion must have high priority and East-West Airlines has proved its ability in bringing visitors from the east coast and Perth to Yulara. The airline is proving to be one of the major factors contributing to the viability of Yulara. Having in mind their aggressive selling and in the light of the decision of the Secretary of the Department of Transport that East West cease its operation to Yulara I would ask that a realistic decision be made by the Federal Government to allow the airline to continue its flights to Yulara.

B. Kilgariff

Senator for the Northern Territory

I thank the Senate.