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Wednesday, 28 November 1973
Page: 4027

Mr Donald Cameron (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) - Mr Deputy Speaker-

Mr Charles Jones - If the honourable member mentions Brisbane Airport I shall move that the question be now put.

Mr Donald Cameron (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) - The Minister has just threatened me, and I am quite certain that he means it; so on this occasion I shall not refer to Brisbane Airport and I shall make my comments brief. I support the comments of the previous speaker, the honourable member for Corangamite (Mr Street), who put forward a case on behalf of the operators of small aircraft. I suggest that these increased charges might well send some small operators to the wall. For instance, I refer specifically and without request to the Stradbroke Gardens Air Service, which runs a service between the Eagle Farm Airport in Brisbane and Dunwich on Stradbroke Island. The fact that this service operates from Eagle Farm Airport suggests that it will not qualify for the 33 i per cent rebate. This service is meeting a requirement of the tourist industry. I believe that the tourist industry is an area in respect of which the Government has failed to use vision.

The increased charges that are to be imposed on aviation will retard the advancement of tourism in this country. Time and time again the Minister for Tourism and Recreation (Mr Stewart) and his advisers have emphasised that one of the matters holding back the advancement of tourism in Australia is that travelling costs in this country are so expensive. As I mentioned a few days ago in this Parliament, Australia now earns $139m of overseas currency through tourism. If my memory serves me correctly, the number of tourists who came to Australia last year was 428,000. I know that there is a system whereby an overseas visitor to this country who travels more than 1,000 miles is allowed a 30 per cent rebate on internal fares. However, the proposed increased charges will wipe out that rebate.

The Government correctly points out that there is a deficiency of some $6 8m in aviation, but it is being shortsighted in not recognising that an increase in the number of tourists coming from overseas to Australia would help to offset that loss. It is remarkable to see the trend of the losses incurred in aviation. No doubt in recent months inflation has increased that figure of $68m. If another year were to pass without an increase in charges, perhaps that figure would grow to $80m. The Government has a responsibility to recognise that when it proposes to increase charges in the airline industry other industries are involved.

Many overseas countries earn in foreign currency approximately one-third of Australia's annual Budget. Australia is located remotely in the South Pacific and that is a disadvantage in the promotion of tourism here. People must pay a lot of money in fares to get here. I hope that, in return for my not mentioning the Brisbane Airport, the Minister will recognise that his colleague the Minister for Tourism and Recreation, though remaining silent today, is greatly concerned at the effect these increases will have upon the important tourist industry.

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