Government Whip in the Legislative Council

Liberal Member in the Parliament of South Australia




Vickers Vimy Aircraft Motion

Thursday 14 November, 2019

 I rise today to further acknowledge the importance of recognising the achievements of South Australian brothers Ross and Keith Smith. December 2019 will mark the 100-year anniversary of when the two brothers piloted their modified Vickers Vimy bomber from England to Australia and won the Great Air Race in 1919. This historical achievement should be celebrated as a moment of state pride.

In celebration of South Australian history, in 2018 the History Trust of South Australia established the Epic Flight Centenary Committee in order to plan a number of events and activities to mark this occasion. Overseen by the Minister for Education, the aim of the committee was to collaborate in order to appropriately honour the success of the flight in a way that was constructively educational for all those involved. The committee is chaired by the History Trust CEO, Greg Mackie OAM, and includes representatives from many community, corporate and service organisations, such as the South Australian Aviation Museum, the RAAF, the RAAF Association, the Royal Aeronautical Society of South Australia, North Road Cemetery, the RSL, Veterans SA, Nova Systems, News Corporation, Sir Ross and Sir Keith Smith Fund, Adelaide Mint, the Honourable Company of Air Pilots, Australian Airmail Society, South Australian Philatelic Society, Adelaide Airport Limited and the State Library of South Australia.

I would also like to acknowledge the dedicated patronage of Air Chief Marshal Sir Angus Houston AK, AFC (Retired); former astronaut, Dr Andy Thomas AO; and Epic Flight Centenary ambassador, Lainie Anderson, who is a writer and journalist of note. Their support has ensured the 2019 program is both vibrant and educational, additionally allowing for the release of special commemorative coin issues from the Royal Australian Mint and special commemorative stamp issues from Australia Post. Each of these highlight the historical importance of the occasion.

The South Australian government has been an active supporter of the committee's work, including providing financial support through the History Trust. This contribution has assisted in creating a busy program for the commemoration, including the Sir Ross Smith commemoration service at St Peter's Cathedral; South Australia's History Festival events, including two book launches, three public lectures and a bus tour; the Epic Flight Centenary essay competition; and support for the forthcoming documentary, The Greatest Air Race, to be screened on SBS.

Other events include the Anzac Spirit School Prize competition, featuring the brothers' story this year; Vickers Vimy open day at Adelaide Airport on 20 October; historic aircraft flight paths on 20 October; forthcoming exhibitions at the State Library of South Australia and Art Gallery of South Australia; public displays at Superloop Adelaide and the Edinburgh Air Show; and extensive media coverage through The Advertiser and the Sunday Mail.

The aircraft itself is still stored in Adelaide. Since the 1950s, it has been stored near the airport but is unfortunately no longer accessible to the public. Its fragile condition prevented it from being moved in the Adelaide Airport upgrade in 2005. It is the intention of the state and commonwealth governments, in partnership with Adelaide Airport, to preserve the Vickers Vimy and a collection of memorabilia. Careful relocation of the aircraft and memorabilia will be facilitated to a purpose-built display facility integrated within the main terminal building expansion.

Moving the plane to a higher traffic area within Adelaide Airport allows for Ross and Keith Smith's story and great achievements to have a continued and lasting impact on future generations. It will create a focal point for this year's centenary celebrations and provide ongoing benefits for South Australian residents and the millions of tourists and business travellers who transit through the airport each year. Adelaide Airport, which is managing the project in conjunction with the commonwealth, will release detailed plans in due course.

The Government supports the motion, with an amendment to replace paragraph 6, which I now move:
Leave out paragraph 6 and insert a new paragraph as follows:
6. That this council welcomes the announcement that the state and commonwealth governments will work with Adelaide Airport to relocate the Vickers Vimy aircraft to the new airport, noting that the move will be managed in a way so as to ensure the plane is not damaged in that relocation.

I commend the motion to the house.

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