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Wednesday, 1 October 1958

Mr Ward d asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -

1.   When was the Department of Primary Industry established?

2.   How many employees has the department had in each year since its inception?

3.   What are the precise functions of this department?

Mr McMahon - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: -

1.   11th January, 1956.

2.   The staff of this department comprises approximately one-third clerical and two-thirds export inspection services. The number on the inspection staff varies depending on seasonal requirements. The highest level of employment since the creation of the department has been -

3.   The Department of Primary Industry has the Commonwealth responsibility in relation to the production and marketing arrangements for Australian primary products. The department is also responsible for -

Primary industry stabilization plans;

Assistance to primary industries;

Administration of the legislation under which Commonwealth marketing boards operate;

Continuous contact with the marketing boards on marketing policy matters;

Inspection, grading and labelling of primary produce submitted for export;

Administration of the Australian Agricultural Council and the Standing Committee on Agriculture;

Co-operation with State Departments of Agriculture on all agriculture and food matters;

Joint financing with primary industries of scientific research and promotion activities;

Financial support to rural extension and mechanization activities;

Investigation of marketing, economic and other problems of primary industries;

Fisheries, whaling and pearling industries, including the administration of relevant legislation and of the Fisheries Development Trust Account;

Commonwealth war service land settlement activities;

Flax industry;

Co-operation with the Department of Trade in the negotiation of international trade and commodity arrangements and Australian participation in international conferences;

Administration of the provisions of existing trade or commodity agreements relating to primary products.

Hire-car Service at Kingsford-Smith Airport.

Mr Daly y asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -

1.   What are the terms of the concession granted to Hughes Motor Services Limited for the operation of a hire-car service at Kingsford-Smith airport?

2.   What consideration is paid or payable for the granting of the concession?

3.   Does this concession purport to confer an exclusive right to carry on a hire-car service at the airport?

4.   Has another hire-car operator, Mr. W. J. Aitkenhead, carrying on business as KingsfordSmith Airport Hire Car Service, carried on a hire-car service at the airport for many years?

5.   Has the Civil Aviation Department placed any restrictions upon that operator in the conduct of his business at the airport?

6.   Is it a fact that this operator is not permitted to stand his cars at the airport terminals while waiting for bookings, but is required to enter parking lots away from the terminals for which parking fees are charged?

7.   Does this operator hold a number of licences from the State Transport Authority for the operation of a hire-car service at the airport?

8.   Has any compensation been paid, or is it intended to pay compensation, to this operator for anyinterference with the conduct of his business resulting from the granting of the concession to Hughes Motor Services Limited?

9.   Are the streets in the airport public roads?

10.   Has the Minister expressed the intention of his department to bring pressure to bear upon the airline companies to discontinue their agreements or arrangements with Kingsford-Smith Airport Hire Car Service for the transport of airline passengers and staff, and to channel this work to Hughes Motor Service Limited?

11.   If so, is this interference with the operations of a private company an unjustified and unprecedented policy on the part of a government department?

Mr Townley - The Minister for Civil Aviation has replied as follows: -

1.   The terms of the concession grant to the Hughes Motor Service the use of part of a building which the company uses as an office, a booking bureau in the overseas terminal building and a system of parking ranks on the airport. The term is for two years.

2.   The concession fee offered by the Hughes company and accepted by the Department of Civil Aviation is £2,400 per annum.

3.   No. In my correspondence with parties who have raised this question in the past I have made this point abundantly clear. No mention of exclusive rights was made in the public tender relating to the concession and I have done everything possible to dispel any misunderstandings in this regard.

4.   The honorable member for Grayndler should be well aware that the Kingsford-Smith Hire Car Service has operated at the airport for a number of years. His colleague, the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith has on many occasions harangued this House with allegations of overcharging and racketeering by the Kingsford-Smith Hire Car Service and pressed for termination of the so-called monopoly under which it operated at the airport.

5.   The only restrictions imposed on the KingsfordSmith Hire Car Service are those imposed by the regulations of the New South Wales Department of Road Transport and are equally applicable to all hire-car operators in the Sydney area. Under the terms of these regulations, disengaged hire cars are not permitted to stand in ranks, or solicit business on the streets, except immediately adjacent to their registered premises. Hence, the only disengaged hire cars which are permitted to remain on the airport are those of the authorized concessionaire whose registered premises are located on the airport. However, there is no restriction on hire cars which have previously been engaged by telephone entering the airport and waiting in the appropriate parking area for the arrival of their passengers.

6.   As I have just said, the cars of the KingsfordSmith Hire Car Service are not permitted under the regulations of the New South Wales Department of Road Transport to stand anywhere on the airport awaiting bookings. All bookings must be made through their registered office. The space available for hire cars on the roadways outside the terminal building is very limited. The available space forms part of the facilities for which the hire car concessionaire pays his fee.

The Kingsford-Smith Hire Car Service, which I understand is presently enjoying the larger portion of business offering on the airport, pays no concession fee. It pays only for the parking spaces in the public area as it uses them. As you may know the difference in distance between the hire car ranks and the public parking areas is only a matter of several yards.

7.   I understand that Mr. Aitkenhead does hold a number of licences from the New South Wales Department of Motor Transport for operation of a hire-car service which permit him to pick up passengers on the airport.

8.   No.

9.   As far as I am aware the streets on the airport are not public roads in the true sense. According to advice which I have received, a road on Commonwealth property may be declared a public road only after 60 years' usage with open access.

10.   I did make it clear that the Department of Civil Aviation should endeavour to channel business to its authorized concessionaire and furthermore I stated that influence would be used to this end. I did, however, make clear also that this influence would amount only to an invitation to the airline companies to come to some arrangement with the authorized concessionaire to ensure that the latter secured at least a fair share of business offering on the airport. You will recall that I recognize the rights of any one to choose whichever hire car service they please.

11.   The action taken by the Department in calling public tenders for this concession and awarding it to the highest bidder is entirely sound and businesslike. It should dispel for all time the misgivings expressed in this House by honorable members of the Opposition during the Budget debate last year that one particular operation - the Kingsford-Smith Hire Car Service - was being given an unfair advantage in the allocation of airport business. As I have said before, the department does not offer any one a monopoly. It can, however, offer certain privileges and business advantages which, as the tender shows, are considered by one experienced hire-car operator to be worth £2,400 per year. The KingsfordSmith Hire Car Service is still free to operate its business in accordance with the New South Wales Transport Regulations and to pick up and set down passengers on the airport.

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