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Friday, 30 April 1971

Senator COTTON (New South WalesMinister for Civil Aviation) - I must confess that it will be extremely difficult for me to answer accurately from the information available to me and out of my head some of the questions asked by Senator Cant in relation to detailed operations. I am a little annoyed about this, not at Senator Cant but at others. \ have been able to send to the Committee answers to questions asked by Senator Murphy and Senator Bishop. Senator Cant had indicated some of the information that he wanted. 1 had hoped that I would have answers to his questions, if not in my hand then in a letter to him. I do not have that information at present. The only question in relation to which I believe he did not give me some indication was about pamphlets published by Qantas Airways Ltd and distributed overseas listing the attractions of Australia. He said that they failed to include the attractions of Adelaide, Darwin and Perth, and by interjection some of my colleagues reminded me that Hobart also was excluded. That seems to me to be an omission. All I can do is find out about this for the honourable senator and let him know

I was hoping that he would have a letter from me detailing the answers to the balance of his questions because in many cases they call for detailed information. An analysis of the route mile structure between Perth and Sydney, Perth and Singapore, and Sydney and Singapore has been asked for and it does throw light on the matter which has been mentioned. 1 understand quite clearly what the honourable senator wishes to establish and I understand quite clearly his right to have it established. The honourable senator also directed to me a question about flight 593 and its general load factor. The reason why in general aircraft flights out of Perth had been cancelled or reduced would have been because of a decline in traffic. Coming to the question about the lack of meals in flight which was mentioned by him and by me to the airline operators, the brief reply from them is that they have been in the habit of providing a meal on the 1 o'clock flight but not on the 2 o'clock flight. But the honourable senator probably reminded me, and 1 reminded them, that this did not help the people who were in hotels and had to leave those hotels before 1 o'clock to get to the airport. I would just remind the honourable senator that the questions he has asked me are detailed questions which call for detailed answers. The answers should have been in his hands; the questions asked by Senator Murphy and Senator Bishop are in the hands of the Chairman. All I can do is to express my regret that the honourable senator has not been given the answers that he wants. However, he will receive them.

Delayed departure times involve a mixture of factors. Sometimes delayed departures are due to operational reasons sometimes they are due to aircraft not being quite ready at the appointed time; sometimes aircraft do not pass their final checks. This is a matter in which we say as a department that aircraft do not leave the ground until they are finally checked out. If there is any slight problem it has to be fixed before departure. If specific cases are referred to me I shall deal with them specifically. I cannot do more at the moment than that. I say again that I hope to be able to supply the honourable senator with this information if not tonight then by mail early next week.

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