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Thursday, 29 November 1973
Page: 2271

Senator TURNBULL (TASMANIA) - I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. It relates to the air fares charged by Qantas Airways Ltd. There has not been a satisfactory explanation of why the effect of the 25 per cent revaluation of the Australian dollar should not be passed on to the public. Does the Minister agree that Qantas is defrauding the public? There is no other word for it, even though the Minister said that that word is too strong. What is it that Qantas is doing if it is not defrauding the public? Why should the Australian public subsidise all the other foreign airlines that come into Australia by again giving them the value of that 25 per cent? We are paying Pan-American World Airways, American Airlines lnc, and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, etc., this 25 per cent. If the Government feels that a subsidy is required, will the Minister ask for a subsidy for Qantas in order to allow the Australian travelling public- there are thousands of Australians travelling- to gain the benefits of revaluation which the Government promised would be passed on to the consumers? Finally I ask the Minister that he insist that Qantas stop using the power that it has of requiring of all air travel agencies that the fares of Australians must be paid in Australian currency whereas any other national can get a fare $173 cheaper than an Australian?

Senator CAVANAGH - I find it difficult to sort out from that speech the parts which are questions seeking information.

The PRESIDENT - I was following it carefully. It may have been wrapped in a cocoon of words but 3 basic questions were asked.

Senator CAVANAGH - On every occasion that the honourable senator has raised this matter I have taken it up with the Minister for Civil Aviation. The honourable senator asked what Qantas is doing if it is not defrauding the public. The answer obviously is that it is running a profitable airline, which is its purpose. The question could well be answered by reference to the question asked today by the Leader of the Opposition who mentioned that an application is being made for an increase in air fares. I suggest to the honourable senator that if he places his question on notice he will be sure of getting a written reply to every point that can be deciphered from his question.

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