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Thursday, 20 October 1983
Page: 2016

Mr JACOBI —My question is directed to the Minister for Aviation. Can he advise the House how many flights were operated by South African Airways last summer and how many flights will be operated by that airline this summer? Do the figures support the view that has been expressed in some quarters that the Hawke Government has adopted a softer line towards South African Airways than that pursued by the Fraser Government?

Mr BEAZLEY —There has been a degree of inaccurate speculation in the Press relating to the policies of this Government towards air links with South Africa. That inaccurate speculation is based on a lack of understanding, I suggest, of the history of this issue under the administration of both this Government and the previous Government. Commentary has neglected to mention the fact that soon after we came into office we removed one flight of what was a regular two flights a week by South African Airways. I made an announcement recently that whereas one flight a week would be maintained while the review of air links continued, over the summer period there would be a capacity for additional occasional flights to meet the needs of travellers. That was not on past experience in any way a reflection of a slackening of attitude or a differentiation in the performance of this Government as opposed to that of the previous Government.

During the summer period October 1982 to March 1983 South African Airways operated 52 scheduled flights from Australia. During the corresponding summer period in 1983-84, South African Airways will operate only 31 flights. That is a reduction of 40 per cent on the flights operated in 1982-83. So, it is plainly nonsense for anyone to suggest that this Government is taking a softer attitude towards South African Airways than was taken by the previous Government. The capacity for additional flights, as I said earlier, is purely to serve the needs of the travelling public in a period of high peak travel while the Government's review of air links with South Africa is under way. The main point in what I had to say is that the position adopted under the previous Government of not permitting flights by Qantas Airways Ltd into South Africa continues. The position under the previous Government whereby South African Airways was capable of making maximum commercial use of that situation has not been permitted to continue under this Government. We have taken steps to ensure that South African Airways will not be able to do that. The number of flights, as the statistics clearly indicate, has been dramatically reduced.