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Thursday, 17 August 1972
Page: 454

Mr Whitlam asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation upon notice:

Why does Qantas not train and employ as large a percentage of Fijians in its operations In Fiji which have extended over 18 years as American Airlines already finds it possible to do in its operations which have extended over less than 2 years.

Sir Reginald Swartz - The Minister for Civil Aviation has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question:

Qantas employees in Nadi, Fiji comprise 91.5 per cent Fijian citizens and 8.5 per cent Australian expatriates, more than half of whom are highly skilled mechanics and engineers. There are 28 of these expatriates who are employed in specialised and technical jobs which Qantas performs at Nadi for American Airlines and other carriers. It is misleading therefore to make a comparison of the proportions of expatriate and local staff working for American Airlines and Qantas. American Airlines does not require expatriate staff for the simple reason that it uses Qantas staff for all skilled technical work.

Since 1963, Qantas has reduced the percentage of expatriates working in Nadi from 27 per cent to the present 8.5 per cent This percentage will be progressively reduced even further. I should also mention that Fijian citizens have been brought to Australia at Qantas expense for 4 year training courses to become licensed engineers. Seven Fijians have so far completed these courses and 5 are currently working in Nadi. Furthermore, at regular intervals they will return to Australia for even more specialised courses. This will enable them to maintain and service the highly complex systems of modern jet aircraft Extensive on-job and overseas courses for locally employed staff have also been conducted in the fields of reservations, communications, traffic handling and other airline functions.

Qantas intends handing over its reservations and some sales functions in Western Fiji to Air Pacific in 1973 as part of its localisation plan. This will mean about15 Fijian staff currently working for Qantas will then be employed by Air Pacific.

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