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Thursday, 14 September 1972
Page: 1472


Mr CHARLES JONES (Newcastle) - I support the amendment moved by the Opposition. I commend the honourable member for St George (Mr Morrison) for having brought it before this Parliament because, realising the fact that airports are a fait accompli, we have to do the best that we can with them until such time as alternative sites can be found, particularly for Sydney. The recommendation contained in the amendment moved by the honourable member for St George is strictly in accord with the recommendations of the House of Representatives Select Committee on Aircraft Noise which tabled its report in this place some 18 months ago. Unfortunately, the Government has not seen fit to act upon and to implement all the recommendations that were made.

For the Honourable member for North Sydney (Mr Graham) to call on this House to oppose the amendment gives us a clear indication of his attitude, which is: 'I'm all right Jack but to hell with you'. He has no aircraft noise problems in his electorate at North Sydney. As far as he is concerned, the people in the electorates of St George, Barton, Kingsford-Smith and Grayndler can make the best of what they have, lt is time that this attitude was changed. There is hardly a capital city airport in Australia that has not got an aircraft noise problem. Perth has a serious problem, as have Adelaide and Brisbane. It is only because of the new location of Tullamarine Airport that Melbourne has overcome the problem. Practically the same thing could be said about Hobart Airport. I do not want to deal with this matter in detail at this stage.

I draw the attention of the Assistant Minister assisting the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr McLeay) to the fact that this is supposed to be a discussion of the estimates for civil aviation which takes in the Department of Civil Aviation, TransAustralia Airlines and Qantas Airways Ltd. Where are the annual reports of those 3 organisations? Surely this House is entitled ito the courtesy of having the Department of Civil Aviation annual report in its possession a reasonable time before this debate comes on. In previous years we have had it put in our boxes on the day on which the estimates were dealt with. It is commo i practice for this Government to withhold as much information as possible from honourable members so that they do not have the facts in front of them to discuss during a debate on the estimates. It is time that the Government did something positive to ensure that these reports are in the hands of honourable members before the debate starts. The same thing can be said in regard to debates on estimates for other departments. The annual report of the 'Department of Health is in the hands of honourable members so that when they deal with the estimates for that .Department they at least know what the Department has to say about its activities during the previous 12 months. The Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) apparently is afraid to make this information available to honourable members.

The point I want to deal with concerns the fare structure of the domestic airline operators in Australia. Today there is a monopoly under the 2-airline policy. whereby TAA and Ansett Transport Industries Ltd are completely protected by this Government to ensure that profits are made. If we look at the profits that these 2 airlines have made over the years we see that it is time that some real competition was introduced into the trade to ensure that the airlines are prepared to make traffic schedules available to people at a fair and reasonable price. When one compares the cost of travel in Australia with the cost of international travel the figure becomes all the more pronounced. For example, a return ticket from Sydney to Perth first class costs $310.20, and to fly second class costs $259.60. Because of the extreme competition in international travel a person can fly from Sydney to London for $420, or on a return flight for $700. Compare those figures under competition with the protected situation that exists today in domestic air travel. Domestic operators are making no attempt whatsoever to provide cheap fares to people. Admittedly they have introduced a number of holiday package tours to places in the Pacific but they have done nothing about the general fare structure.

When we compare the load factor in Australia with that which exists overseas it is obvious that there is a need for something to be done about fares. For example, the revenue load factor for domestic flights operated by all members of the International Civil Aviation Organisation averaged 54.8 per cent in 1968, 52.3 per cent in 1969, and in 1970 it was 51.6 per cent. Yet for Ansett Airlines in 1964 - this was Ansett's best year - the load factor was 64.5 per cent; in 1971 it was 62.3 per cent; and in 1970 it was 62.4 per cent TAA has an even better load factor than that. TAA's best percentage for the last 10 years was in 1970 when it was 67.3 per cent. In 1971 it was 65.2 per cent. That was the worst year TAA had over the last 10 years. Load factor governs the fare structure of an airline. When you compare those averages in Australia with the rest of the world's domestic airline operators associated with ICAO - I think there are 127 members - it is pretty clear that there is a case for our domestic airlines to answer. When you compare what has been done by TAA and Ansett with what East- West Airlines is doing to provide a reasonable fare structure it can be seen that the main operators have been arrogant and it is time that this Government or this Parliament told them to get on with the job of reducing fares to attract people and so reduce fares.

Let me compare the fare structure of the 2 main operators with that of East- West Airlines. East-West Airlines has for some considerable time been giving a 33 per cent discount to people under 26 years of age. There is only one proviso attached to that discount; if the seating capacity of the aircraft is filled the person claiming the discount loses his entitlement to a seat and must wait until the next flight. This is standard practice throughout the world but it does not apply in our 2 domestic airlines. It is time that they did something about this to attract young people into airline travel. Young people want to travel but the facilities are not available at a reasonable price for them to do so. The East-West Airlines facilities are limited only to a very minute section of Australia whereas the main domestic operators operate throughout the Commonwealth. The domestic operators have an attractive proposition which they give to overseas visitors to Australia, that is, the 'Explore Australia' air fare. It is exclusively for overseas visitors. They may travel anywhere on the East-West network for 21 days for a payment of $63. Some years ago when I was in the United States of America I bought a bus ticket for $99 and I able to travel for 99 days. This sort of thing encourages a person to travel as a tourist and it encourages a person who is in a country to have a look at the place. This is what we should be doing in Australia to attract tourists to this country.

East-West Airlines provides another concession which is a 20 per cent reduction on fares for people travelling in the period between Christmas and New Year's Day. No attempt has been made by TAA or ATI to introduce off peak fares. I know that TAA is interested in the 'under 26' concession but unfortunately the private enterprise airline, whose attitude is There is the price, there is the fare, take it or leave it', is not prepared to introduce cheap fares to attract people to travel in the middle of the day instead of at peak periods at the beginning or end of the day. This is the way to encourage people to travel on our aircraft which are flying with about a 25 per cent load factor at non-peak periods. They are overloading the peak periods. If our domestic operators were prepared to offer attractions such as I have mentioned I am certain that it would be in the interests of airline traffic as a whole and that it would encourage people to use airlines when they go on their holidays. This is becoming more evident today.







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