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Tuesday, 28 September 1971
Page: 1528

Mr WHITLAM - I ask the Prime Minister a question supplementary to that asked him by the honourable member for Stirling. I ask the' right honourable gentleman why it is that the Commonwealth sees fit to pay a subsidy for the airline operations provided between Western Australia and Darwin by a subsidiary of a very large airline company but does not see- fit- to pay a subsidy for the sole shipping . service between those areas.

Mr McMAHON - We were looking at the single problem of the inefficiency and the lack of transport that existed between Western Australia - that is Perth or Fremantle - and the Northern Territory ports, particularly Darwin. We felt that they were uneconomic and could not make a profit.

On the advice tendered to me, not by my own Department but by the relevant departments in the Commonwealth, we felt that if it was in the interests- of the Western Australian Government that the tran sport arrangements between Western Australia and the Northern Territory should continue, this should be at the expense of the Western Australian Government. So that is the answer. I did not at that time consider the relationship that might exist between the air transport industry and the shipping industry of Western Australia. Nonetheless, when looking at the matter on a second occasion I will take this into consideration.

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