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Wednesday, 6 August 1930

Senator GUTHRIE (Victoria) . - I move -

That after paragraph (a) the following new paragraph be inserted: - " (aa) by inserting in paragraph (j) of sub-section 1 after the word ' development '. the words ' of aviation and ' ".

The paragraph will then read -

(j)   the income of any society or associa tion not carried on for the purposesof profit or gain to the individual members thereof, established for the purpose of promoting the development of . aviation and of the agricultural, pastoral, horticultural, viticultural, stock-raising, manufacturing or industrial resources of Australia shall be exempt. The constitution of the Australian Aero Club provides that it shall not be carried on for the purpose of profit. All the branches of this club i the various States are doing magnificent work in training air pilots. Since these clubs are not carried on for a profit, they should be exempt from taxation on the amount of the grant which they receive from the Government for the encouragement of civil aviation. This vast island continent is particularly adapted for aviation, and already Australian pilots have proved themselves to lie amongst the foremost in the world. Recently, Mr. Mackay equipped an aerial expedition at his own expense and, flying to Central Australia, mapped a vast area of unexplored country. He also discovered an immense lake, the existence of which was unknown. In Canada, civil aviation plays an important part in fighting forest fires, and in mapping unexplored territory. Recently civil aviators there mapped an area of 200,000 square miles of new forest country. In Australia valuable services are being rendered daily to the community by commercial aviation companies and civil aviators. Persons suffering from sickness in the interior are conveyed to hospitals, and when occasion arises doctors and nurses are transported from place to place to minister to persons who are in need of skilled attention. These aero clubs are doing a wonderful work in the development of Australia. Already they have trained over 300 " A " class pilots who are ready to take their part in the defence of this country in the event of war. These pilots, I venture to say, would constitute our first line of defence. It is impossible to speak too highly of the extraordinary efficiency of pilots trained by aero clubs in Australia. We are all proud of the achievements of Sir Ross and Sir Keith Smith, Parer. Mackintosh, Hinkler, Kingsford Smith, and many others. We also pay a high tribute to the courage and resourcefulness of Miss Amy Johnson, the English aviatrix, whoflew solo to Australia a few months ago. She was trained by the London Aero Club. In view of the splendidwork which these aero clubs of Australia are doing in training pilots, it is only fair that their incomes should be exempt from taxation. The men who have been trained in Australia and who are performing wonderful work in the interests of our country, are always available should their services be required by the Defence Department. During the Great War Americans were sent to England to be trained as pilots in aero clubs in order to enable them to engage in aviation work at the front. These aero clubs are conducted on a totally different basis from those wonderful companies such as the Australian Airways Limited, Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Service, and the Larkin Aircraft Supply Company, which have secured world's records in the carrying of passengers and mail matter. I am not suggesting that these companies should be exempt from taxation, because they are trading for profit; but I wish to place on record their wonderful achievements. I understand that up to March of this year the aircraft of the three companies that I have mentioned have flown 2,519,578 miles in 32,448 flying hours without serious mishap, and have carried 373,777 lb. in freight, and 1,676,933 letters without the loss of a single letter. I think it can safely be said that our pilots are the most efficient in the world. I remind honorable senators that the Atlantic was first crossed by air in 1919 by Arthur Whitten Brown and John Alcock, both Britishers, ten years before Lindbergh performed the same feat. Kingsford Smith is an Australiantrained pilot who, in addition to being the first to fly the Pacific, has also flown over the Atlantic Ocean and the Tasman Sea, and was the first pilot to circle the world by air. I believe that the Government, in the assistance which it has given to the five principal clubs, recognizes the good work being done by aero clubs. Under existing conditions assistance is given by the Commonwealth Government through the Department of Defence on the following basis: -

1.   A certain number of machines and spares are issued on loan or replacement. Those form the nucleus of the fleets of aeroplanes with which the club carry on training.

2.   Hangar accommodation is made available and club houses built - the latter being rented to the club at a figure to cover the interest on capital outlay.

3.   A bonus of £20 is paid to the club for each pilot trained to receive an"A" licence.

That is an extraordinary cheap way in which to train pilots who must be fully equipped and capable of flying solo for 20 hours before they can obtain an "A" licence. Training of this kind equips them for assisting in the defence of our country. No less than 300 pilots have been trained, at a cost of only £20 each to the Government, whereas, to provide a similar training in the Air Force, would probably cost hundreds of pounds. The conditions under which assistance is granted continue -

4.   In addition, a bonus forflying time on a sliding scale, is payable. The rates under the present agreement are 10s. for the first 1,000 hours, 7s.6d. for the second 1,000 hours, and5s.d. thereafter: a maximum of £1,200 in all. This bonus is in lieu of a previous arrangement by which spares up to a certain amount were supplied by the department.

The clubs are all vigorous bodies. They are controlled by committees of aviation enthusiasts, whose chief aim is to foster aviation in the Commonwealth. Under their articles all clubs are prohibited from distributing any profit among members. In other words they are associations which are not operating for profit. Their work is carried out efficiently and enthusiastically. The rates charged for flying rank favorably with those charged in any part of the world, notwithstanding the high cost of spares, petrol, oil, &c., The pioneer clubs of the movement in Australia have their head-quarters in Sydney and Melbourne. These clubs started flying operations in August, 1926, and, up to the 31st May of this year, had registered up to 20,500 hours of flying, and had trained 300 pupils for an " A " licence. In addition to the training of pupils, the clubs carry out extremely valuable work by giving ex-war pilots the opportunity to retain their efficiency at a very low cost, thus preserving a valuable asset to Australia in time of need. But for the existence of the air clubs many of the ex-war pilots, through a lack of training, would become, to use a colloquialism "rusty" ; but, on payment of a reasonable fee, they can hire a machine and thus retain their efficiency. Aero clubs arc not confined to Australia, but are operating in England, Canada, India, Singapore, South Africa and New Zealand. In all parts of the Empire their worth is recognized and they are afforded a substantial measure of support. For the year ended 30th September, the Government subsidy and bonus to the Victorian section of the Australian Aero Club was £300, the total earnings including Government assistance, £2,317 19s. Id., and the profit £436 3s. 3d. In 1928 the figures were £308 5s., £3,183 5s. 4d. and £491 ls. 3d. respectively. In 1929 the Government assistance and bonus was £1,753 3s. 8d., the total earnings, including Government assistance, £6,556 13s. 10d., and the loss, £85 3s. lid. It -will be noted that although the turnover has increased by nearly 300 per cent, no profit has been made. This is due to the club's policy to keep the cost of flying down so that it may be within the reach of everyone. The club is doing exceedingly valuable work, as will be shown by a comparison between the cost of training a pilot under the Aero Club's scheme with that of the Royal Australian Air Force. In the former case, the Government pays a small proportion and the pupil pays the rest. When trained, an aero club pilot is not as expert or efficient as are Royal Australian Air Force pilots; but, in time of need, the training he has received would be of great value, and he would only require a little additional training to become fully competent. The position at present is somewhat ludicrous. The clubs are not taxed on the income received from members, but on the revenue from other sources which is derived in the form of Government subsidies and bonuses which are subject to taxation.

The CHAIRMAN (Senator Plain).The honorable senator's time has expired.

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