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Thursday, 27 May 1993
Page: 1484

Senator BJELKE-PETERSEN —My question is addressed to the Minister for Transport and Communications. This is my last question in the Senate. I wish to ask about the construction of Brisbane's international airport, which is of great importance to the State I have represented in this place for 12 years.

Senator Boswell —And done it well.

Senator BJELKE-PETERSEN —I thank Senator Boswell. I ask the Minister: firstly, what is the current status of the proposed completion date for Brisbane's international airport; secondly, does the Minister recognise that, according to tourism industry experts, some $27 million in visitor revenue would be lost in the event of a delayed opening; and, thirdly, will the Minister acknowledge that the tourism industry may hold the key to an economic recovery in this country and that every effort should be made to fast track Brisbane international airport's construction so that Australia's premier tourism State, my home State of Queensland, can help to spearhead the economic recovery so desperately needed in this country?

Senator COLLINS —At the risk of incurring the wrath of my colleagues, there are a number of senators in here whom I would be very pleased to see leave—including many who are not—but I will be sorry to see Senator Bjelke-Petersen leave the Senate. She is one of the few human beings on the coalition side of this chamber—and it could do with a few.

Senator Crichton-Browne —Very hurtful, Bob.

Senator COLLINS —I knew that would cut Senator Crichton-Browne to the quick as he is such a sensitive soul. The current completion date for the terminal is January 1996. We are currently engaged in discussions with the Federal Airports Corporation about the practicality of bringing that date forward. I might also tell Senator Flo Bjelke-Petersen that the FAC is, in fact, about to announce the letting of very substantial tenders for the major steel construction for that terminal. So there is about to be a considerable amount of money committed to its construction in terms of putting up the external fabrication of the building very shortly. I think probably in the next week or so that will be announced.

  One of the planning matters that is being addressed in respect of the terminal—although I can assure Senator Bjelke-Petersen that this will not delay its completion at all—is the Government's policy initiative in terms of the amalgamation of Australian and Qantas and the possibility now for Ansett, or any other domestic carrier, to have an international arm. With the amalgamation of Australian and Qantas, that airline will also have an international domestic arm. I might add that that arrangement is commonplace around the world. Until the recent policy changes were made, Australia was almost unique in that this did not happen here.

  This provides the opportunities for terminal arrangements to be made that are quite different to the ones we have now in terms of an airline operating both international and domestic flights. That matter is currently being considered in terms of all our major terminals such as Sydney and Melbourne. Of course, we are now in the happy position in respect of the Brisbane terminal of being able to pre-plan for those arrangements.

  The terminal is certainly due to be completed no later than 31 January 1996. It is well and truly on schedule. Major tenders will be announced in the next week or so for the steel fabrication for the building. We are currently discussing with the FAC the prospects of bringing forward the schedule from that date.