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Wednesday, 21 May 1980
Page: 2967


Mr McLEAN (PERTH, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - I refer the Minister for Transport to the continued advocacy by West Australian members for the establishment of an independent inquiry into the structure of domestic air fares in Australia and ask, further to the question that was asked yesterday by the honourable member for Tangney, when the Minister will be able to inform the House of the terms of reference for such an inquiry and the personnel selected to undertake it?


Mr HUNT (GWYDIR, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Transport) - I have some good news for the honourable member for Tangney and the honourable member for Perth. Following my recent announcement that the Government had decided to establish an independent inquiry into the domestic air fares structure, I can now release further details. The chairman of this public inquiry will be Mr W. J. Holcroft, who has had a long association with the transport industry and with various government advisory bodies. Amongst other tasks, he has been chairman of the Transport Industries Advisory Council and the Manufacturing Industry Council. He will be assisted by Dr Harold Bell and Professor Warren Hogan. Dr Bell has had a distinguished career as an economist in the insurance industry and has also been associated with the transport industry. In particular, his role as a member of the Transport Industries Advisory Council, I am sure, will place him in good stead to understand the factors involved in the inquiry. He is also a Commissioner of the Australian National Railways. Professor Hogan of Sydney is of course a very well known Professor of Economics at Sydney University and a distinguished economist. He has also served on a number of important government advisory bodies.

I am sure that the collective experience of these gentlemen will enable the inquiry to address itself adequately to what will be a very demanding task. I do not know whether I should bore the House with a recital of the terms of reference.


Mr SPEAKER - The honourable gentleman might ask to have them incorporated in Hansard.


Mr HUNT - Yes, but I will try to summarise the principal points, for the benefit of those who might not read Hansard. The terms of reference provide for the examination of air fares on the trunk and regional routes operated by the two major domestic airlines, namely Trans-Australia Airlines and Ansett Airlines of Australia. The inquiry will also look at the way in which fares are set on the individual routes of the national.net- work by the use of an air fare formula.


Mr Young - Did you write this yourself?


Mr HUNT -I did, but I did not type it.


Mr Morris - I rise on a point of order. This is a very important issue that is worthy of special time being devoted to it, following the making of a proper statement. It is an abuse of Question Time to arrange a whitewash such as the Minister is trying to indulge in now. I ask that the Minister make a statement to the House on the subject and allow debate upon it.


Mr SPEAKER -There is no point of order. The honourable member for Shortland well knows that. I would have thought, out of courtesy to the Minister and out of deference to the importance of the inquiry, that honourable members on the Opposition benches would remain silent and that honourable members on the Government side also would remain silent.


Mr Morris - I rise on a point of order. Equal noise is coming from the other side of the chamber, but your constant reference is to the Opposition. Please be reasonable and name the other side, not just this side.


Mr SPEAKER -The honourable member for Shortland obviously did not hear me reprimand honourable members on the Government side immediately after reprimanding honourable members on the Opposition side. The Minister will now be heard in silence.


Mr HUNT -Thank you, Mr Speaker. The existing and alternative pricing policies and the degree of cross-subsidisation will also be examined. In this manner the question of equity between the long and the short haul fares will be addressed. As the House will be aware, this issue has been a matter of particular concern for Western Australian members of Parliament. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard the terms of reference of the inquiry.

Leave granted.

The document read as follows-

INDEPENDENT PUBLIC INQUIRY INTO DOMESTIC AIR FARES TERMS OF REFERENCE

1.   The inquiry is to examine air fares on the trunk routes and regional routes operated by the two major domestic airlines, Trans-Australia Airlines and Ansett Airlines of Australia, with special reference to the way in which fares are set on individual routes in the national network by use of an air fare formula.

2.   In respect of these routes the inquiry should report, and make recommendations as appropriate, on

(i)   costs, revenues and load factors

(ii)   existing and alternative pricing policies

(iii)   the degree of cross-subsidisation.

3.   The inquiry shall have regard to

(i)   the public interest

(ii)   government domestic aviation policy including the objective of increasing competition

(iii)   the effect of competition on fares

(iv)   the Report of the Domestic Air Transport Policy Review Committee

(v)   the desirability of a nationally consistent approach to setting first, economy and standard class fares

(   vi ) factors which affect operating costs on particular routes

(   vii) the assignment of corporate overheads

(viii)   operations of other airlines over routes referred to in( 1'

(ix)   other relevant factors.







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