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Thursday, 12 May 1960

Mr GALVIN (Kingston) . - I desire to direct the attention of the House to conditions at the Adelaide airport at West Beach and the methods adopted by airline companies to arrange to hire taxis for travellers. The Department of Civil Aviation has laid it down that taxi drivers are not allowed to enter the passenger lounge for the purpose of touting for fares - a very commendable restriction. Outside the passenger lounge the department has erected two taxi stands. One is situated immediately outside the entrance and carries five taxis, and the other is situated some 30 or more yards away and is capable of carrying 30 taxi cabs.

The procedures adopted by the two operators, Trans-Australia Airlines and Ansett-A.N.A. are worth comparing. T.A.A. adopts the procedure that the air hostess on the aircraft, when in flight, ascertains how many passengers require taxis. When the aircraft lands the hostess notifies the T.A.A. desk and a T.A.A. employee then obtains a taxi from the waiting taxis on the rank, thus ensuring that a passenger obtains a taxi immediately and also that the taxi which is at the head of the waiting list receives the job. This naturally suits the passengers, and it suits the taxi companies as it ensures a fair go for all taxis on the rank. The travelling public obtain a taxi without any waiting. If there were no taxis on the stand, T.A.A. would have to rmg one of the companies. But it would be most unusual if there was no taxi on the rank.

Ansett-A.N.A. adopts a different system which is causing much discontent amongst taxi operators and great inconvenience to the travelling public. The procedure that Ansett-A.N.A. follows is that the air hostess, like the hostess on T.A.A. aircraft, ascertains how many taxis are required. On landing she contacts the Ansett-A.N.A. desk. If there happens to be a taxi on the rank belonging to a certain company, Ansett-A.N.A. calls the cab irrespective of its position on the rank - whether it he first or last - and that cab obtains the fare. This happens despite the fact that eight, nine or a dozen taxis may have been waiting for an hour or so for a fare. The taxi to which Ansett-A.N.A. gives the job may have been on the rank for only a few minutes.

More often, however, there is no taxi belonging to this company available on the rank, and Ansett-A.N.A. then rings the company through a direct line phone which is installed at the Ansett-A.N.A. counter. A passenger may have to wait, fifteen or twenty minutes for a taxi to come to the airport from the city or from some other point. Ansett-A.N.A. hostesses, if they are touting for taxi business whilst the aircraft is in flight, should make it clear that a passenger will not be provided with a taxi off the rank at the airport, and that he probably will have to wait for fifteen to twenty minutes for a taxi.

Ansett-A.N.A. has a perfect right to order a taxi from anyone it likes to obtain whatever pay-off it can from the taxi company, but the passenger should be considered and should be informed that he may have this long wait. Taxis which are prepared to stand on the rank provided by the Department of Civil Aviation to provide a service for the travelling public should also be considered. There could be a dozen or so taxis waiting for a fare, but Ansett-A.N.A will telephone for a taxi which is five miles or so away from the terminal. It is, in fact, trying to create a monopoly from its terminal for this particular company. The department rightly prevents touting inside the passenger lounge, and the methods adopted by T.A.A., in co-operation with the department, give a fair go to the taxi companies and a first-class service to the travelling public. I should like to know from the Minister for Civil Aviation whether the taxi company referred to pays the Department of Civil Aviation any fee for the right to have a direct phone installed in Ansett- A .N.A's section of the passenger lounge. If no rent is payable by that company, I should like to know whether Ansett-A.N.A. receives payment from the company for the privilege of having a direct phone installed there. Again, I ask whether the Minister will consider moving that direct-line phone to a position outside the passenger lounge. I suggest that if one company is to be allowed to have a directline phone outside the passenger lounge then at least equal opportunity for similar facilities should be granted to all taxi companies.

The civil aviation authorities have attempted to introduce a fair system of providing a good taxi service for the travelling public by prohibiting touting and canvassing by taxi drivers, and by taking steps to ensure that taxis are available to passengers immediately they alight from aircraft at Adelaide. Trans-Australia Airlines has co-operated with the Department of Civil Aviation, and Ansett-A.N.A. should do likewise. I ask the Postmaster-General to pass on my complaint to the Minister for Civil Aviation with the suggestion that he investigate the matter with a view to ensuring the smooth working of the very good system which has been introduced by the department in South Australia. The Taxi Control Board of South Australia is powerless to act as all those transactions are effected on the property of the Department of Civil Aviation, and I am sure that board would be very pleased if the Minister for Civil Aviation would step in and ensure that orderly services are provided for the public and that Ansett-A.N.A. co-operates with the department in the same way as T.A.A. does.

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