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Tuesday, 21 August 1973
Page: 22

Mr FAIRBAIRN (Farrer) -The Opposition naturally is very glad that the Government has agreed to this amendment which will put Trans-Australia Airlines on the same footing as Ansett Transport Industries Ltd from the point of view of having to borrow money instead of being able to use its superannuation funds.It will put it on the same footing as more than 30 Commonwealth instrumentalities which do not use their superannuation funds. I am glad that the Government has seen fit to accept this amendment. I am only sorry that it did not ac- cept it at an earlier time so that we could have had this Bill in operation as an Act some months ago.

As we stated quite clearly, the facts were that TAA was using a sum which I believe was about $29m, increasing at a rate of about $3m per annum. This was giving it an advantage over its competitor. Australia has a 2-airline system and we do not believe that there should be advantage for either airline. We certainly said that TAA was getting an advantage which was worth at least 500,000 per annum. Not only that, but it was able to use that money as it saw fit. The Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Charles Jones) did go part of the way towards meeting our request earlier by saying that funds borrowed from the superannuation fund of TAA would be charged interest at 7 per cent instead of 5.5 per cent, as had previously occurred. He has now taken the very wise course of agreeing that those funds should not be used by TAA and, as I pointed out at the time, the Bill was previously before the House, this is in accord with the agreement which was made between the previous government and Sir Frederick Scherger, the head of TAA. As a result of that agreement, of course, TAA was given a number of advantages. As I said before, a little bit of sugar makes the medicine go down. The sugar, of course, was that TAA received advantages in being able to run motels and activities closely related to airline operations and could go into some intrastate airline operations provided that was agreed to by the State government concerned. It could also acquire shareholdings and various things of that sort.

After TAA had made this arrangement with the previous Government and after the previous Government had made available the sum of, I think, $25m in the previous Budget, TAA then tried to take up the cheese and not spring the trap. It has now done so. The previous arrangement that superannuation funds must not be used has been agreed to by the Government. At the same time TAA will receive advantages which I think it is only fair that it should have. The Opposition is delighted that the Minister has accepted this vital amendment by the Senate.

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