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Tuesday, 4 October 1983
Page: 1245

Mr SHIPTON —My question is directed to the Minister for Sport, Recreation and Tourism. In light of the Minister's recent description of the 6 per cent increase in air fares as very damaging for tourism, will he please inform the House: Firstly, what proportion of the increase in air fares is due to the 4.3 per cent wage increase which was fully endorsed by the Government; secondly, what proportion of the air fares increase is due to the increase in fuel excise in the Budget; thirdly, how many jobs will the increase in air fares cost the tourist industry; and fourthly and finally, what will be the impact on tourism in areas such as Queensland, Northern Territory, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia?

Mr JOHN BROWN —The honourable member flatters me by suggesting that I have all that information at my fingertips. Of course I do not have it, and I doubt that anybody has. I will discuss the matter with the Minister for Aviation who, no doubt, can offer some very accurate advice for the honourable member. This Government is very concerned about the impact of air fares on the proliferation of tourism within Australia.

Mr Beazley —Ask him how he voted on the two-airlines agreement.

Mr JOHN BROWN —I would not ask the honourable member how he voted on the two- airlines agreement. We are very worried about the impact that air fares have on the proliferation of tourism within Australia. It is a fact that in the last 12 months the airlines have suffered a 10 per cent decrease in market; they suffered a 10 per cent decrease in market in the previous 12 months. In that period they increased air fares by 27 1/2 per cent. It appears to me to be sound commercial sense for anybody who is running a business and wants to improve his financial situation to reduce prices and try to fill some of the three and a half million empty seats per year rather than put up fares and reduce even more the number of people who show a propensity to fly. However, I am interested to note that the honourable member for Higgins is showing at least some scant interest in tourism; it is an interest that was not displayed by his Government in its seven years of operating the treasury bench. Hopefully, at the end of the very long period that honourable members opposite will have in opposition, they will have learnt something about the value of tourism to the Australian economy and its potential to employ people. They might then appreciate the great efforts that have been made by this Government to do something about tourism.