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Wednesday, 19 May 1993
Page: 839

Senator CHAPMAN —My question is directed to the Minister for Transport and Communications. Is it true that the Civil Aviation Authority Board at its last meeting accepted an airspace system where jet airline aircraft will be operating at airports with no directed traffic information or separation service? Could the Minister name one other country which uses such a risky procedure at airports similar to Mount Isa and Yulara where there is a mix of jet airline aircraft and general aviation aircraft?

Senator COLLINS —I confess that I do not know what happened at the last board meeting of the Civil Aviation Authority. I also have to confess—and it is one of the frustrating things about the current problem—that unless the CAA Board discussed pay television at its last meeting, it is highly unlikely I would know what it discussed. I know this is a serious question and one of the first that I have had for a fortnight.

  Senator Alston interjecting

Senator COLLINS —Senator Alston's major problem is that if he had another neuron he would have a synapse. I will immediately investigate whether that matter was raised at the last CAA board meeting. I will provide an answer to Senator Chapman as soon as I can.

Senator CHAPMAN —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. I regret that there is yet another area of the Minister's portfolio responsibility in which he does not seem to know what is going on. I ask the Minister: is it true that representatives of his department have been present at a number of CAA and industry meetings where the recently accepted airspace system has been formulated? Have they advised the Minister of the totally unproven nature of the system and the risks involved, or is this yet another example of his failure to exercise any authority or control over his department, allowing it to run to its own agenda?

Senator COLLINS —All that Senator Chapman's supplementary question has revealed is what happens in here at Question Time every day; that is, that Opposition senators continue to read the supplementary questions they have already prepared without having any regard to the previous answer that they have received. We know it happens all the time. As I have said very forthrightly and very truthfully, as I normally do: I do not know what happened at the last CAA board meeting.

  As to Senator Chapman's question about the likelihood of officers of the aviation division of the department being present at industry meetings, they often are, and they will continue to be. But I will pursue the issue for Senator Chapman and I will provide him with an answer when I have one.