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Wednesday, 28 November 1973
Page: 2185

Senator WOOD (QUEENSLAND) - My question really impinges on the portfolios of several Ministerspossibly the Minister for Trade, the Minister for Tourism and Recreation and the AttorneyGeneral. Therefore, I ask the Attorney-General this question: Is he aware that the International Air Transport Association agency committee, which is the organisation representing the international airlines, which are mostly government owned and which include Qantas Airways Ltd, our Government airline, makes an unusual requirement of travel agents who seek IATA agency accreditation? Is he aware that such applicant travel agents are required to make airline reservations, without payment of commissions, for such international airlines, including our Government airline, Qantas? Is he aware that applicant travel agents must perform this work, possibly for several years, without payment until such time as the agent reaches a certain annual productivity of business, when IATA may condescend to appoint that agent as an IATA agent? Does he agree that IATA, like other business organisations, should, by inspection and investigation, make its own assessment of the capacity of a prospective agent? Does he not agree that no Australian should be asked to work for no payment for such international airlines? Is he aware that IATA continually holds a threat over accredited agents that they may lose their agency if production is not up to the figure which IATA has in its mind? Is he aware that, as now publicised, international airlines intend to increase considerably the quota of business demanded from accredited agents? Does he not agree that the imposition of quotas of business required is using undue pressure tactics on agents?

Senator MURPHY - I am aware of the accuracy of some of the statements made by the honourable senator. I will inquire as to the others. I remind the honourable senator that various restrictive and undesirable practices operate in the areas of trade and commerce. Increasing efforts are being made by all countries, including Australia, to cope legislatively and administratively with those practices. As the honourable senator is aware, in Australia legislation has been introduced in certain areas to deal with that matter. The Trade Practices Bill is before the Senate. There are various other ways in which such activities might be scrutinised. The honourable senator may recall that it was announced some time ago that Federal legislation would be introduced to cover travel agencies. I know that some legislation has been introduced and is operative in some of the States, but it is considered by this Government that there should be Federal legislation because of the implications in trade and commerce with other countries and among the States. For various other reasons there is a fount of constitutional power. That legislation is under preparation. I do not think that it will be introduced during this present sitting, but it is certainly expected that it will be introduced early next year. The Minister for Tourism and Recreation will be in charge of that legislation.

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