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Tuesday, 22 May 1973
Page: 2420

Mr GILES (Angas) - Very briefly, I say to the honourable member for Cook (Mr Thorburn), who has just resumed his seat, that he ought to remember the history of tha dual airline policy and take into account that the government of the day - which was of the colour of the present Opposition rather than the colour of the present Government - had to search the length and breadth of the land to find somebody or some firm to take over the role of competitor with what was in those days, to all intents and purposes, a government monopoly of the transportation of passengers through Australia. That is why my Party believes in a dual airline policy. It is for the same reason that people on this side of the chamber can hardly be blamed for saying that honourable members opposite do not believe in a dual airline policy.

If honourable members opposite want any more proof of why we might be suspicious about this matter they should look at what their own Minister for Transport (Mr Charles Jones), who is in charge of this Bill, said the other day in relation to the proposal by the Chief Minister of Papua New Guinea. This nation has been setting up as a nation the last bit of genuine colonialism. It has nurtured and looked after Papua New Guinea in the process of making that Territory an independent nation. Contrary to the wishes of the man who will be the Prime Minister of an independent nation in years to come, the Minister for Transport threatened fiscal reprisals and said that he must not allow the degree of capital holding of one Australian company to be, part and parcel of the future airline policy of a future nation which is our next door neighbour. So, do not ask us why we are suspicious of the Government's attitude to this Bill.

Mr Hunt - Everybody is suspicious.

Mr GILES - The honourable member is right; everybody is suspicious. This is particularly so as the Bill does not define the areas which the amendment moved by the honourable member for Gippsland (Mr Nixon) seeks to define. Let us have a look at some of the remarks that have been made in relation to this clause. The Opposition has been accused of looking for campaign funds. I do not think that is a particularly nice or fair contention to fling around this Parliament.

Mr Hunt -It is scurrilous.

Mr GILES -Yes, it is scurrilous. It can be countered very easily by examples that would not make members of the Government Party happy. But that is a subject perhaps for an adjournment debate and we should not allow it to muddle our thinking now. The use of superannuation funds was mentioned as applying to Trans-Australia Airlines but not to Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. We say that this is not fair and equitable treatment. The Bill contains a provision which, admittedly, is loose in its meaning but which implies that State governments may rebate State taxation measures in relation to TAA but not in relation to ATI. Frankly, I do not think that this is more than a fond socialistic wish of the Government of the day, but let us look at what it could do. State taxes on liquor licences could be remitted from one of those 2 companies.

Mr Hunt -Land tax.

Mr GILES -Land tax could be remitted but it could apply to Ansett Transport Industries. Other charges include water rates and sewerage rates.

Mr Hunt -Payroll tax.

Mr GILES -And also payroll tax. Probably more important is the ton-mile tax. Just look at the implications. I do not think it is more than a blithe socialistic dream. But provision is made in this Bill. Honourable members opposite should not talk to us about whether we believe in the dual airline policy. This Bill provides for the exemptions. We cannot be blamed nor can the people of Australia be blamed for feeling that there is some hidden factor in this Bill that might react to their detriment. I do not think for one minute that the people of Australia believe any more than I do in the grasping all-embracing giant monolithic structures with all the built-in potential for gross inefficiency and all the built-in potential for a lack of initiative. I do not think that the people of Australia want structures of this sort. I know that honourable members on this side are fearful in regard to them. I have dealt with the sheer inertia of these big monolithic structures. I have dealt briefly with the fact that honourable members on this side of the House saw years ago the need to draw up a scheme of competition to protect the air-travelling public of this country. We have achieved a great deal over the last 20 years. The Government of the day says that the situation needs to be improved. I do not quarrel with that. I hope I will never quarrel with a suggestion that there is a need to alter a circumstance to fit new conditions, but this is not what the Government is doing in this legislation. I have demonstrated that the treatment would not be equal. I have demonstrated how this Bill does not say what the Government says it will do. The Act itself is wider ranging than is this legislation. I believe that because of these circumstances there is a right for the people on this side of the House to put to the Australian people the other side of the picture. Part and parcel of this are the amendments which have been moved by the honourable member for Gippsland. I think the nation would do well to have alook at the amendments. The amendment to clause 5 reads:

.   substitute the following sub-section:

(1)   The functions of the Commission are -

(a)   to transport passengers and goods for reward by air between prescribed places; and

(b)   within the limits of its powers under this Act or any relevant State Act, to transport passengers and goods for reward by air or in association with its powers in this section and, within those limits, to provide land transport accommodation, and other services and facilities associated with the exercise of its powers under paragraph (a), and the Commission shall carry on business for the purpose of performing those functions'.

For want of a better name, this became known as the Cotton declaration. It is what the previous Government promised the people of Australia it would do if it was elected in Decemberlast year. It is not for me to spell out the 7 or 8 conditions that the Government put in a statement which it made publicly and to which it committed itself if it was returned to office. It was not returned. This Government has taken up the issues with which the previous Government was involved. But it has gone too far and for honourable members opposite to accuse honourable members on this side of the House of being fearful of the intention of the Government in regard to this Bill is most surprising because the Government has given us every reason to be fearful in the type of Bill which is now before the House.

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