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Thursday, 15 November 1973
Page: 3369

Mr COLLARD (KALGOORLIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - Is the Minister for Transport and Minister for Civil Aviation aware that a Bill which has been introduced into the Western Australia Parliament is designed to allow Trans- Australia Airlines to enter into intrastate services in that State? Can the Minister indicate the advantages which would flow to the people of Western Australia, particularly those in the north and north-west areas, if TAA is permitted to operate in Western Australia?

Mr CHARLES JONES (NEWCASTLE, VICTORIA) (Minister for Transport) - It is correct that, I think yesterday or the day before, a Bill was introduced into the Legislative Council in Western Australia to provide for TransAustralia Airlines to operate intrastate services in Western Australia. I understand that the Bill will be debated next week. In regard to what this will represent to Western Australia, I should like to say first and foremost that this matter was raised in this place almost 12 months ago by the former Government when it extended the period of the 2- airline agreement between Ansett Airlines of Australia and TAA. The previous Government gave an assurance that TAA would be permitted to operate intrastate services in Western Australia. I am hoping that, likewise, the Liberal and Country Parties in Western Australia will honour the assurances that were given in this place and in the Senate by the then Minister for Civil Aviation.

The honourable member for Kalgoorlie asked what advantages will flow to, in effect the people of Western Australia as a whole. There will be an immediate reduction in air fares because, at present, MacRobertson Miller Airline Services, which is a fully owned subsidiary of Ansett, charges one fare, which is the top fare. TAA has given an assurance that it will introduce 2 classes of fares - first class and economy class - which will permit a 20 per cent reduction in fares for the people of Western Australia. Just to give the honourable member an example, for persons prepared to travel by economy class between Perth and Darwin there will be a saving of $62 on a return journey. That is just on that particular trip. If we take Port Hedland as another example, there will be a reduction of S30 in the return fare between Perth and Port Hedland. That is one advantage which TAA's entry into this service will represent.

The people of Western Australia have something to look forward to. These fare reductions will help to stimulate tourist activity in Western Australia. Western Australia badly needs assistance in this type of development. TAA's entry into Western Australia will enable the introduction of cheaper fares and TAA will be able to introduce into that State package tours of the kind that it has introduced into every other State of the Commonwealth. These are concessions which, in the past, Ansett has been reluctant to grant. One of my directions to TAA was to introduce off-peak concession fares. This was resisted by Ansett and the former Government, but it is now operational. This is the type of concession that the people of Western Australia can look forward to. DC9 aircraft will operate on this service and, of course,, instead of companies in Western Australia having to wait up to a week and having to pay excess freight rates between Perth and other centres, because of the larger aircraft which will be operating and which will be able to carry about another 4,800 lb of cargo they will be able to move their freight at a much cheaper rate than at present. Rumours have been circulated in Western Australia to the effect that because of the introduction of TAA, MacRobertson Miller will have to withdraw some of its services. An assurance has already been given by Sir Frederick Scherger that any services relinquished by MacRobertson Miller will be taken up by TAA. So, I assure the honourable member for Kalgoorlie that his constituents have nothing to fear from TAA coming into operation in Western Australia and that they have very much to gain from reduced fares and a better service.

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