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Tuesday, 25 March 1980
Page: 944

Senator RAE (TASMANIA) -Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Transport been drawn to an exchange of views expressed in the National Times which suggest that Qantas Airways Limited could save up to $20m per annum in direct operating costs, as well as an investment of $50m in one Boeing 747 aircraft, by scheduling services to London and the United States from State capitals in approximate proportion to the State population, thus eliminating the need for every Qantas service to originate or transit from Sydney? In view of the indicated $30m loss to be recorded by Qantas this year, despite duty free fuel benefits, does the Minister agree that such a suggested saving should not be flippantly rejected, as would appear to be the reaction of the Chairman of Qantas in his letter to the editor of the National Times last week? In considering the application by Ansett Airlines of Australia for a Townsville-Darwin-Singapore service, will the Minister instigate an independent investigation of the other proposal, paying particular regard to the pooling agreements which exist between Qantas and British Airways and recognising that lower density routes such as DarwinSingapore can be efficiently serviced by a domestic operator feeding into Qantas' European services at Singapore?

Senator CHANEY -The answer to the first question asked by the honourable senator is no, my attention has not been drawn to the article to which he refers. I have not read it and I am therefore not able to make comment upon it. In light of the fact that I have not read it I similarly cannot answer the second part of his question, except to say that, whatever interpretation has been placed on it by Senator Rae, I agree with him that any saving of $20m is not to be rejected flippantly. But I give that response without being able to comment on whether the Chairman of Qantas did in fact reject the suggestion flippantly. The matter mentioned in the third part of the honourable senator's question has been raised before, and it is my understanding that the continuing policy of the Government is that Qantas should be the overseas operator. The honourable senator has raised a number of particular questions which I think deserve the consideration of the Minister. I will refer them to the Minister and ask him to give the honourable senator a considered reply.

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