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Tuesday, 22 May 1973
Page: 2403

Mr CHARLES JONES (Newcastle) (Minister for Transport and Minister for Civil Aviation) - by leave - I wish to make a very brief statement on this Bill which may be of interest to honourable members, particularly when they come to deal with the clauses in Committee. As honourable members will be aware, I have circulated an amendment which the Government proposes to move in the Committee stage so that at least honourable members will have it on record. It is obvious that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) wants to deal with it at this stage. I am happy to have that occur. The Government wants to make clear that the Bill now before Parliament is no different in substance or design from that which the former Liberal Government promised Trans-Australian Airlines last August and also in October. It might assist the progress of this debate if I were to indicate now that the Government proposes to suggest several amendments during the Committee stage of the Bill that will put our intention beyond any reasonable doubt. These amendments arise out of representations that have been made to me in the past few days by various organisations and individuals who had what I think were unfounded concerns about how some of the provisions of the Bill might be used. Therefore we propose to amend the Bill so as to provide that TAA will be required to show separately the results of its aviation and non-aviation activities in its annual accounts which are tabled in this Parliament. This will put it on the same basis as is Ansett Transport Industries Ltd, which is now required to do this under the recently amended Airlines Agreements Act.

We also propose to show clearly that our only desire is to see that TAA is able to compete more effectively and fairly with Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. We will propose an amendment which will ensure that TAA's activities in the areas of accommodation, transport and engineering are related to the level of activity by ATI in these areas. As an example. ATI's most recent accounts disclose that its total revenue in 1971-72 was $208m, including airline revenue of $150m. On this basis the amendment would allow TAA to plan its operations for ensuing years on the basis that it would be permissible to earn non-aviation revenue in the same proportion. This will show that we do not intend to allow TAA to swallow up various other interests in the accommodation, engineering and transport fields. I hope that by foreshadowing these amendments at this stage of the debate the way .might now be clear for the Opposition to honour its public promise of last August, which it repeated in writing to TAA last October, and join with the Government in passing this Bill which is designed to ensure that Australia has a fully competitive, evenhanded 2-airline system.

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