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Thursday, 29 October 1970

Mr KELLY (Wakefield) - Speaking as the Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works I hope the Government will reject this amendment. I would like to point out that th: Committee, in its unanimous report, said that immediate steps should bc taken to plan elsewhere a training facility for commercial jet aircraft. The significant difference between what the Committee said in its report and what is contained in the amendment is that the amendment says 'to plan and construct'. I would like to make the obvious point that anybody who does not plan before he constructs is basically foolish. Obviously the first step is to plan. The Committee has pointed out to the Government that it should plan a training airfield in another area for the reasons which are set out quite clearly in the report, including the problem of aircraft noise.

The Committee examined both the site in question and the problems with very great care. I also point out that the 3 Australian Labor Party members of the Committee - and they are excellent members of the Committee - supported the Committee in its unanimous decision that it recommend to the Government that it should plan an airfield in another area. If this amendment is carried it will mean that this matter will be referred back to the Committee for consideration. I know the quality of the members of the Committee well enough to know that the same answer will come out of it. One important point is that if this amendment is carried inevitably the very light programme to enable this facility to be constructed in time to take Boeing 747 aircraft and to enable pilots to complete their training will be delayed. It has been said that we could send pilots overseas for training. I have been informed that the training of 747 pilots, or for that matter any commercial passenger pilots, is a continuing process. I have been informed thai pilots would have to be sent overseas about once a week for training. A commercial passenger pilot needs to be continually trained. My information is that commercial passenger pilots are put on a continuous training roster. Therefore, it is quite clear that if this amendment is accepted the proposal will come back to the Committee again and the training of pilots who will fly 747 aircraft will inevitably be delayed. If the report is not accepted we will have 747 aircraft which cannot be down.

This is the kind of problem which the Committee faced. We were aware of the problem of aircraft noise. We were also aware that we were dealing with a very tight programme. We made it crystal clear in our recommendations that there was a problem. I think it would be useful if I read to the House 2 paragraphs which deal with this matter. Paragraph 51 of the report slates:

We feel it is necessary to point out that the Committee received the reference at a point in time which made it. difficult, if not impossible, not to endorse the work. Not to do so would mean that the training of Qantas air crew on Boeing 747 aircraft could only be done under considerable penalties after their delivery in August 1971. The Committee feel that, because of the programme, it was left with no alternative but to recommend the construction of the proposed work at Avalon.

Paragraph 52 of the report states:

It is quite probable that, if the programme had not been so demanding die Committee would have recommended the development of a training airfield in another location . . .

This is the problem which the Committee faced, lt is the problem that members of the Australian Labor Party on the Committee faced, as they always do, with commendable clarity. They joined members of the Committee from this side of the House in supporting the only possible decision that was open to a committee that had a sense of responsibility for the decisions which it was forced to make. I would like to make the complaint that the action taken by the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) in my opinion places my colleagues on the Committee in an impossible position. Members of the Committee from the Australian Labor Party signed the report with members on this side of the House. However, now they will be asked to vote against their own recommendations. I have a very high appreciation of the quality of members of the Committee from the Labor Party and I can understand what this will mean to them.

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