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Thursday, 3 May 1973
Page: 1681

Mr CHARLES JONES (Newcastle) (Minister for Transport and Minister for Civil Aviation) - I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

When the previous Government introduced the Airlines Agreements Bill 1972 into this House of Representatives on 24th October 1972 the then Minister for National Development, Sir Reginald Swartz, included in his second reading speech the following statement: lt is the intention of this Government, therefore, to introduce in the first sittings of the new Parliament a Bill amending the Australian National Airlines Act so that there is no question about TransAustralia Airlines having the powers enabling it to engage in activities closely related to airline operation and to give effect to the Government's decisions.

The Minister made it clear during the debate on the Bill that the matters referred to were such things as aviation engineering work for outside organisations, the handling of Commonwealth contracts, the establishment and operation of hotels and other kinds of accommodation, the establishment and operation of road transport services, the acquisition of subsidiaries or shareholdings in companies or the establishment of subsidiaries for the purposes of the Australian National Airlines Commission, aerial work and charter operations, and operations in Papua New Guinea after independence. The amendment of the Australian National Airlines Act to widen TAA's powers is one matter concerning which this Government is in complete agreement with the previous Government. It therefore has no hesitation in bringing forward this Bill, which is designed to give TAA the additional powers mentioned so that it will be in a fair and equitable position compared with Ansett Transport Industries Ltd in respect of its operations under the 2-airline policy. 1 need not go into the Bill in any detail. The main provisions deal with matters on which the Government and the Opposition are in agreement, and I need only comment briefly on certain items. Firstly, the Government believes that it ought to be possible to appoint 7 commissioners to run TAA, instead of 6 as at present, and that the Act should enable the General Manager to be appointed as a commissioner, with the same rights and responsibilities as other commissioners. Clauses 3 and 4 of the Bill are included for these purposes. Clause 5 sets out the basic functions of the Commission, lt largely restates existing functions in different language, but adds the power to transport passengers and goods by land as well as by air, or partly by each means, and to provide for the Commonwealth aviation, land transport and engineering services and other services which are within its resources. In effect, this is one of the provisions which the previous Govern ment indicated it would introduce. If TAA is to be in a position to compete effectively under the 2-airline policy, it must be able to provide aviation services within a State when it is authorised to do so by the State Government concerned. Clause 6 is designed to enable TAA to operate intrastate services, nol only in Queensland and Tasmania where it already has the power to do so, but in any State where the State Parliament refers the matter of air transport to the Commonwealth or adopts the relevant part of the Commonwealth Act. This provision is also- one which the previous Government would have had. to introduce in order to honour its undertakings given last year.

Clause 7 inserts in the Act provisions enabling ing TAA to provide air and land transport services within a State, and to engage in other activities within a State when authorised to do so by State legislation. In addition, it provides for the other activities on which there is agreement that TAA should have full powers in such areas as aerial work operations: the operation of hotels and other forms of accommodation; joint operations with other carriers; air transport operations in Papua New Guinea, after that country becomes independent, under arrangements which are agreed between the Commonwealth and the Government of that country; and engineering services for outside organisations. The clause also restates the powers of the Commission to engage in activities incidental to its basic functions and in particular authorises it to participate in a company or partnership for the purposes of carrying out those functions. The remaining clauses of the Bill are designed to introduce amendments to the Act consequential upon the provisions I have mentioned, or to bring up-to-date the financial provisions of the Act. I commend the Bill to honourable members.

Debate (on motion by Mr Street) adjourned.

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