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Thursday, 30 September 1971
Page: 1730


Mr WHITLAM (Werriwa) (Leader of the Opposition) - by leave - I have had the opportunity to pursue investigations into ' this matter. Honourable members willrecall that it was raised in the last question yesterday morning and at that time I was only able to get a copy of the report of the Department of Civil Aviation before' making an explanation. I have since been' able to obtain a submission by Ansett Transport Industries Ltd made in July of this year on this subject. I shall quote from it because 1 believe it sets out the situation in a way that the Parliament has not yet been cold. I remember discussing with the honourable gentleman when he was Minister for Civil Aviation 3 or 4 years ago the agreement between ATI and the Commonwealth under which the Commonwealth guaranteed in effect that TransAustralia Airlines would not be allowed to participate in the Western Australia-Darwin services. Since the honourable gentleman gave me a copy of that agreement - I have not been able to lay my hands on it but I remember that it was for my own information alone - there has been no alteration in the agreement. It is not a public document, lt has never been tabled but I would accept that the . position is accurately set out in Sir Reginald Ansett's submission in July, which reads:

MacRobertson Miller Airline Services (MMA), a wholly owned subsidiary of Ansett Transport Industries Limited (ATI), is the sole operator of airline services within Western Australia and between Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

These services, provided by MMA, are operated in pursuance of a subsidy agreement with the Commonwealth of Australia dated 30th September 1959. This agreement expires on 30th September 1971.

I point out that this agreement expires today. I will not quote the following paragraph. There was a review of the agreement in 1968. The submission continues:

The net result of this review was that MMA ceased to be paid any subsidy except for. the Kimberley area and was authorised, at its own financial risk and without the guarantee of a reasonable return on capital provided for under the subsidy agreement, to re-equip with pure jet aircraft.

In the House of Representatives on 10th October 1968, the then Minister for Civil Aviation, Mr Swartz, answered a question on this matter (Hansard, p. 1814) in the following terms:

Ansett-MMA has announced some changes in services on certain routes in Western Australia. This is a matter of close study between officials of the company and officers of my Department. The honourable member will be aware that the total operations of the airline in the west are subsidised substantially by the Commonwealth. This is done under an agreement which will remain in force until about 1971, when it will be reviewed. Most of the routes covered by the airline are classified as developmental routes and in total they attract some form of subsidy. Over recent years, with the advent of more sophisticated types of aircraft, it has become obvious that airline operations in the areas under discussion presented very difficult economic problems. . Also, the provi sion of an adequate subsidy was becoming a greater burden to the Government. Ansett-MMA has sought to readjust certain routes within the currency of the agreement with the GovernmentThis is being done in consultation with officers of my Department in Perth. The intention is that the third level service of what is called the commuter type operation will take over in areas where tha current service is withdrawn.'

When I spoke yesterday I had no knowledge, nor I believe would any member of the Parliament have had knowledge, that the 12-year agreement which was made in 1959, a copy of which the Minister provided for me about 3 years ago, had in fact, some time after October 1968, been varied in this regard. The agreement which he gave me made it plain - Sir Reginald Ansett's submission recites all this but I have not quoted it - that the Commonwealth subsidy to MMA was for its total services which are a monopoly service, between Western Australia and the Northern Territory.


Mr Swartz - Changed after 1968.


Mr WHITLAM - Some time after your : answer on 10th October 1968. The agreement expires today.







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