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Tuesday, 13 August 1974
Page: 787

Senator MURPHY - Mr President,may I refer to a question which was asked by Senator

Townley of me on 1 August about VIP aircraft? The Minister for Defence has provided additional information, and I will read what he said.

There has been no decision by the Government to acquire a Boeing 707 aircraft being disposed of by Qantas. The Defence Force Development Committee, comprising the Chairman, Chiefs of Staff, the Service Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of the Defence Department, has for some time been considering the numbers and mix of aircraft, as between aircraft of the Hercules type and jet transports, to replace the Hercules CI 30 A transports which go out of Royal Australian Air Force service later in this decade. Second hand Qantas Boeing aircraft have been under consideration in this context. They are an older model but have many years of useful life remaining. They are well suited for use in the long range transport role for the carriage of both freight and personnel. If acquired it is planned that the aircraft would be based at Richmond which is the current location of the RAAF Hercules transport squadrons.

Exploratory inquiries have been made of Qantas as to when the next aircraft will become available for disposal. This is likely to be during 1975. The terms of the discussions with Qantas are a matter of commercial confidence. I can say, however, that the possible amounts for acquisition suggested in the honourable senator's question very greatly exaggerate the possible cost which would be well below $20m. Similarly, the cost which the honourable senator cited of running these aircraft- about $12m a year- is grossly exaggerated. Recurring operating costs for two such aircraft would not be expected to exceed $1.5m a year. I repeat that no decision has been taken by the Government in this matter. That is the information supplied by the Minister for Defence. Honourable senators will understand that the use of the word T in that answer refers to the Minister for Defence.

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