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Tuesday, 14 May 1968

Mr SWARTZ (DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND) (Minister for Civil Aviation) - The answer to the latter part of the honourable member's question is no. No assurance has been given by me, and certainly no approach has been made to me regarding such an assurance. As the honourable member is, I think, fully aware, there is in existence an agreement under which MacRobertson Miller Airlines Ltd conducts the intrastate services in Western Australia and also certain services to and from the Northern Territory. That agreement still has a couple of years to run. When it is being reviewed any application made by Trans-Australia Airlines Ltd will receive consideration. As to any reduction in the number of pilots employed, this matter has been brought to my notice only by newspaper reports. 1 am not aware of any large scale reduction. This is a matter which is purely within the commercial competence of the airline concerned and does not come directly within my jurisdiction.

My understanding is that certain problems involving numbers of pilots arise from time to time because new types of aircraft with greater capacity come into operation and the airlines find they can provide satisfactory services with fewer aircraft. I understand that such a situation has arisen in the west. But there is a very substantial development in Western Australia in general aviation involving the use of light aircraft, particularly in the charter field. These activities have increased at a far greater rate in Western Australia than in any other State. There is no doubt that the demand for general aviation pilots will be greater in Western Australia than in any other State for some time to come, so I would not be greatly concerned regarding the availability of positions for pilots in Western Australia. However, I will make some inquiry regarding the matter to see what the future policy in relation to this subject is and whether any other consideration is being given to changes as far as pilots are concerned in the future.

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