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Wednesday, 10 October 1973
Page: 1879

Mr CALDER (Northern Territory) - While speaking to the estimates for the Department of Transport and the Department of Civil Aviation I should like to discuss the remarks made by the honourable member for Grey (Mr Wallis). I notice he has left the House, having said what he said.

Mr Hansen - You were not here when he said it.

Mr CALDER - I was here when he said it. I thought he might be here to listen to what I have to say. He took me to task for dismissing from consideration some 65 miles of road which happened to have been sealed by the South Australian Government after a lot of discussion and argument. The distance of the road from Alice Springs to Port Augusta is 750 miles. So after all, the 65 miles is peanuts. The same distance is being sealed in the Northern Territory by a Commonwealth organisation. I hope it is carried on by this Government. I do not think it can get out of that one. There is a lot of this road to seal. I hope that the honourable member for Grey, having apparently made such a good fellow of himself with the Minister for Transport and the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Charles Jones) - they are both in the same Party- can organise the rail link from Tarcoola to Alice Springs. After all, the previous Government agreed to it in principle. It was organised by the Transport Committee of the previous Government. But, so long as it is built, I do not mind who does it.

I refer now to concrete sleepers. If tenders are called and concrete sleepers are found to be cheaper and more efficient to use, not only would the previous Minister have used them but also I would expect this Minister to use them. There are numerous occasions when I am sure that wooden sleepers would be a better proposition, such as when a line is not being built from scratch. When a line is being repaired I am certain that the use of wooden sleepers will be just as economical at least. There is 120 to 125 miles of the road from Alice Springs to Port Augusta at present under construction in the Northern Territory. The honourable member for Grey said that the road from Port Augusta to Woomera will be sealed. I hope that we will all benefit from this action. Most of that stretch of the highway is in his electorate. But my concern is about the Labor Government which has been quibbling for years about finance for this road and for the Eyre Highway. I hope that it will now get to work and build this highway, and that the honourable member's State and his Government will benefit from it. Where does the trade go? It goes from the Northern Territory down that highway to South Australia.

Mr Wallis - The South Australian Government is working on it.

Mr CALDER - At long last. I wish to speak next on air navigation charges. I direct my remarks to the Minister for Civil Aviation and I hope that he will give me some attention. After all, we in the Northern Territory suffer the same increase of 10 per cent in airport charges as do people in the States. We also suffer the increase of approximately 5c a gallon in charges for diesel fuel, motor spirit, aviation gasoline fuel or aviation turbine fuel. We must cover greater distances in the Northern Territory. The distance from Adelaide to Alice Springs is approximately 1,000 miles. Alice Springs by road is 950 miles from Darwin; by air the distance is approximately 800 miles. I invite honourable members to apply such distances to the areas where they live. For instance, I ask the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly), who is Minister for Services and Property, where he would end up if he travelled 800 miles from his home? He would probably find himself on Thursday Island. That would be a good place for him to go.

Mr Daly - I would be found murdered outside Alice Springs.

Mr CALDER - That may be so. You have scant appreciation-

Mr Wallis - I rise to take a point of order, Mr Deputy Chairman.

Mr CALDER - This honourable member realises that I have only 10 minutes in which to speak.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Luchetti) - Order!

Mr Wallis - For his information, I inform the honourable member that I am the only member here from South Australia who lives outside the metropolitan area of that State.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! That is not a point of order. The honourable member will resume his seat.

Mr CALDER - Thank you, Mr Deputy Chairman. I was certain you would realise that that was a rubbishy comment. I believe that the increased' air charges are absolutely inhuman. The Minister is charging people in the Northern Territory for something that they are not even getting. Really first class services are provided at such airports as Tullamarine or Launceston, formerly Western Junction. But the increase of 10 per cent in airport charges is being imposed on people in the Northern Territory - they must suffer also the increases in fuel tax - who receive absolutely no services in return. Darwin Airport has no air-conditioning system. It is overcrowded. There is standing room only on many occasions. Why are we being charged this additional 10 per cent? I instance Katherine Airport. It is not serviced by jets.

Mr Morris - You had 23 years of Liberal Government.

Mr CALDER - Services have been improved.

Mr Daly - What about the 24 years of Liberal Government?

Mr CALDER - We did not impose these taxes. Honourable members should remember that the Government is disinterested in any areas outside our cities and their suburbs. Katherine has an airstrip capable of taking jets. I asked the Minister to put the proposition to the airline companies that they should land jets at Katherine. People at Tennant Creek must meet the additional 10 per cent airport charge and also the increased fuel charges. But Tennant Creek has Friendship services only. I refer next to the Minister's much vaunted argument about granting TransAustralia Airlines access to the Darwin-Perth run because Ansett Airlines of Australia was charging first class fares on that route, including travel to intermediate stops, What happens with respect to travel "to intermediate stops on airlines in the Northern Territory? Whether the Friendship service is to Tennant Creek, Gove, Katherine or elsewhere, passengers must still pay first class charges. I ask the Minister to look at this matter.

Mr Daly - You would think that we were responsible for this.

Mr CALDER - I would hope that you would be responsible and that you would show some responsibility. I turn next to local airline services. The Minister for Civil Aviation tabled today a report on an airline which operates from my home town, I refer to Connellan Airways which, apart from the Commonwealth Government, is the biggest employer of labour in Alice Springs. When in Opposition, the present Minister for Civil Aviation stated that if his Party was elected to office he would see this airline out of business. That is as may be. But I think the Minister may have found that it would cost twice as much money to hand over the services provided by this local airline to TAA. I would not know. I think he may have found this out. All I ask is this: If he wishes to cut the subsidy granted to Connellan Airways, will he allow that airline to enter free enterprise business and to run its services as efficiently as it can because it could run those services far better in that area than TAA could provide them?

I ask the Minister to allow that local airline to increase its limits above 1,200 lb all up weight which would lift its operating ability above the Heron class of aircraft and allow it to use prop jet aircraft on the 100 to 120 airstrips that it services. The Minister would find that he could eliminate this subsidy instead of saying vindictively that he will put this company out of business and run its services through charter aircraft. The charges for such services would be twice as much as people in the areas serviced by this airline pay for flights now.

I ask the Minister, who must be aware of the small ships situation out of Darwin, to consider what his colleagues are doing to the population in Arnhem Land. Thousands of people who live in that area rely on the small ships which operate out of Darwin. He, his colleagues and his fellow travellers in Darwin, including Manning and members of the Waterside Workers Federation, are persecuting the operators of small ships. They are putting them out of business and the people in Arnhem Land are the ones who will suffer-

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Dr Jenkins) - Order! The honourable member's time has expired.

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