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Thursday, 7 October 1971
Page: 2015

Mr WHITLAM - I ask the Prime Minister a question concerning the speech by the Minister for Foreign Affairs 2 days ago in New York which he has condoned. The right honourable gentleman will notice that the Foreign Minister warned his audience of the impact in Australia of the style and the way in which America has acted recently on some issues such as the recent airline dispute over the travel routes of Qantas Airways Ltd. I ask the right honour* able gentleman: Is the Government eminently satisfied with the handling of this matter or has it in fact in any other way, privately or properly, protested to the United States Administration about the handling of it?

Mr MCMAHON - The honourable gentleman obviously has not understood what was said by my colleague the Minister for Civil Aviation. There are certain beneficial clauses in the agreement between the United States Government and ourselves that can be of marked advantage to this country. In the first place this problem has been taken out of the hands of the United States Civil Aeronautics Authority and put into the hands of the Department of State which is responsible for the overall relationships between that country and Australia. Also, we have a provision in the agreement to provide that if the estimates in schedules do not turn out to be of the order that is considered to be probable by the United States Civil Aeronautics Authority, we can take action ourselves either to cancel the agreement or to make variations in it at our discretion. In other words, there are marked advantages in the new agreement compared with the old one.

It is true that we did not get all we asked for. But who does? What I would like to point out is that I believe the officers of both Qantas and the Department of Civil Aviation did the best job that they could have done under the difficult circumstances. They were legislating under very difficult circumstances. I repeat, Sir, that you cannot always get what you want. Nonetheless we believe this to be a satisfactory agreement.

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