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Monday, 8 May 1989
Page: 2026

Senator SANDERS(9.42) —We have discussed this matter at length. I find that I am in a position of making a decision, somewhat as King Solomon had to do. I do not wish to carve the baby in half, perhaps, but I am somewhat at a loss to reconcile the presentations of Senator MacGibbon and the Minister for Resources, Senator Cook. Senator MacGibbon and I often argue on other topics but we generally see eye to eye on aviation. He being the right wing and I being the left wing of this machine, we generally strike a pretty good balance on our aeronautical progress through the halls of this place. But I am a bit confused, and I hope that the Minister can set me straight. I thought that the Minister just said-and I am sure that the briefing I received from his officials said-that this extension of time would not really affect the small operators, the users of avgas, but only the users of avtur. Avgas, of course, is the mother's milk of the general aviation business. It is what powers the light aircraft of the flight instruction facilities and general aviation in its smaller sense. The turbine fuel is what powers jets. That was my understanding.

Senator Cook —You are right.

Senator SANDERS —If that is the case, then I feel that this extension would benefit the airlines at the expense of those whom we both hold dear, the general aviation operators, because the airlines and the operators of avtur aircraft-the commuter airlines, I suppose-would be granted a 45-day extension. As Senator MacGibbon has said, the overheads have trebled. I agree with him. What we are talking about is overheads. It would cost more to collect these funds. The cost to all, including general aviation, would increase because of the overhead cost of having two accounting systems, but the benefit would accrue to the airlines. So, general aviation would be the loser. That is the reason I am opposed to this amendment.

Because the Minister says that this is the truth and because Senator MacGibbon says otherwise, who am I to believe? I am sure that the Minister is not deliberately misleading the Parliament. I am sure that he would not do that.

Senator Cook —You are absolutely right.

Senator MacGibbon —Neither am I misleading Parliament.

Senator SANDERS —I am sure that Senator MacGibbon would not be misleading Parliament purposely, but in his zealousness to present the case of general aviation he might have somewhat enhanced the truth. I can only really take the Government's word and its briefing at face value. I have talked to the Minister's officials. Although I am on the horns of a dilemma, I still feel that I must back the Government because I do not want to see increased charges for general aviation. That will be my last position. If I found that the Government had not been completely honest in this I suppose that it would then be too late to rectify the damage, but I certainly would not be pleased. I put the Government on notice that I would make it quite plain if I felt that I was being deceived by the Government. All I can do is believe the Government's word and briefing, hope that the facts are as presented and, in this very difficult situation, adhere to my original position that, to protect general aviation from the increasing costs of collecting this charge over a 45-day period, I must support the Government.

Question put:

That the amendment (Senator Calvert's) be agreed to.