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Monday, 21 April 1980
Page: 1588

Senator MacGIBBON (QUEENSLAND) -Is the Minister representing the Minister for Transport aware of the comments by Sir Lenox Hewitt in the Sunday Mail on 20 April that Qantas Airways Ltd will seek to fly passengers between Perth and Melbourne, Melbourne and Sydney, and Sydney and Brisbane in competition with Trans-Australia Airlines and Ansett Airlines of Australia? Does this statement contrast with the monopolistic stand taken by Qantas in the past with respect to the applications by Ansett Airlines of Australia to operate between Townsville and Singapore, and Hobart and Christchurch, to name but two routes? Has the Government been advised by the Chairman of Qantas, in the light of his newfound commercial realism, that Qantas will now withdraw its opposition to the internal airlines operating in the region around Australia on routes where Qantas is not prepared or able to operate a service?

Senator CHANEY -I do not read the Sunday Mail; so I have not seen the report which was referred to by the honourable senator. I do not think there is anything new in that report if, in fact, it is in the terms mentioned by the honourable senator. I understand that Qantas Airways Ltd on a number of occasions has put forward the suggestion that it might use its excess capacity on internal routes for domestic nights. That has been suggested in the past and it may have been suggested again by Sir Lenox Hewitt. The honourable senator drew a contrast in respect of the monopolistic stance of Qantas. It is the Government which decided that until 1981 Qantas should have the right to be our sole overseas carrier. In fact, that is a Government decision. I have no information as to whether the Government has been advised of any change in attitude by Qantas with respect to possible nights from various cities around Australia to overseas ports. I will seek that information from Mr Hunt and let the honourable senator have a further reply.

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