Browsing articles in "Ministerial Media Releases"
Apr 6, 2008

New Watch on Airport Parking Fees

 

New Watch on Airport Parking Fees

Media Statement

Anthony Albanese MP,

Minister for Infrastructure, Transport

Regional Development, and Local Government

Leader of the House

April 06 2008

The Rudd Labor Government will direct the consumer watchdog – the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) – to monitor car parking costs and revenue at the nation’s five major airports.

Last year, the previous government allowed the ACCC monitoring program to lapse at the very time total car parking revenue reached an unprecedented $206 million – not a good time for government to take its eyes off the ball.

The Rudd Labor Government believes proper monitoring of car parking costs and revenue at major airports is in the best interest of nation’s travelling public.

Accordingly we will restart the monitoring of both long and short term parking at Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney airports.

I recognise there are genuine public concerns about airports using their monopoly position to exert significant market power and charge higher prices for the various periods of stay – particularly short term stays to drop off and pick up passengers.

We need to ensure that this monopoly position doesn’t lead to the exploitation of the travelling public and their families.

By international standards the parking charges at some Australian airports are high.

Car parking rates

Car parking charges are also a significant, and in some cases, growing element to the revenue of the nation’s airports, making up as much as 18 per cent of an airport’s total revenue.

In 2006/07, revenue from parking ranged from $9.8 million at Adelaide Airport to $69.6 million at Sydney Airport.

Growth in Revenue

What’s more, revenue from car parking has been growing at a much quicker rate than the number of people actually moving through the terminals.

Since 2002, passenger numbers at the five airports have increased by about 41 per cent; while over the same period of time parking revenues grew by a much greater 77 per cent. The graph below shows the growth numbers for each of the five major airports.

Parking revenues

The inclusion of car parking in the ACCC’s monitoring regime will provide greater transparency and accountability for the pricing of these facilities.

Contact: Jeff Singleton 0410 476 890

Mar 31, 2008

Virgin Takes to the Open Skies between the US and Australia

Virgin Takes to the Open Skies between the US and Australia

Media Statement

Anthony Albanese MP,

Minister for Infrastructure, Transport

Regional Development, and Local Government

Leader of the House

March 31 2008

While the ink has barely dried on Australia’s landmark ‘open skies’ agreement with the United States, its promise of greater choice and lower fares has already become a reality following Virgin Blue’s announcement today that it will start flying regular services to and from the US by the end of the year.

The US is the third most popular destination for Australian tourists, and the ‘open skies’ agreement allows Australian and US airlines to increase flights, develop new routes, offer innovative products and grow their businesses free from government interference.

I am particular pleased that Virgin Blue is moving quickly to take advantage of the new arrangements successfully negotiated by the Rudd Labor Government only a month ago.

The Australian Government welcomes the airline’s decision to enter the long haul international market through its new carrier – V Australia – and wishes Sir Richard Branson and his team every success as they embark on this ambitious endeavour.

V Australia’s entry will provide travellers with greater options, put pressure on ticket prices and create new jobs in our aviation and tourism industries.

But without the ‘open skies’ agreement, it would not have been possible for V Australia to commence operations with its desired number of services.

The Rudd Labor Government is committed to the further liberalisation of the international aviation market as the best way to keep fares affordable as well as give both new and existing airlines the confidence to invest in additional aircraft.

Ultimately, greater competition is good for travellers, jobs and the economy, particularly for a relatively remote island nation like Australia.

Already our aviation sector supports thousands of jobs and creates billions of dollars in exports. Equally, a thriving, competitive aviation sector helps satisfy the hunger many Australians have for travelling and doing business overseas.

Last year, Australians took 5.5 million trips aboard and at any one time there are more than one million Australians living and working overseas.

Mar 26, 2008

Greater Protection for Australians Travelling Abroad

Greater Protection for Australians Travelling Abroad

MEDIA RELEASE – The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

Minister for Infrastructure, Transport,

Regional Development and Local Government

26 March 2008

The Rudd Labor Government is moving quickly to give Australians travelling overseas on international airlines access to fairer compensation in the event of an airline accident, following nine years of inaction by the previous government.

Today I introduced into the Parliament the Civil Aviation Legislation Amendment (1999 Montreal Convention and Other Measures) Bill which implements the 1999 Montreal Convention, a multilateral aviation agreement that updates the potential liability of international carriers.

The Convention includes new, tougher liability arrangements for:

  • The death or injury of a passenger;
  • The loss or damage to a passenger’s baggage;
  • The loss or damage to a freight shipment; as well as
  • Delays to the scheduled arrival of a passenger, baggage or freight.

The new scheme makes it easier for Australians to seek fair and timely compensation – a big step forward in consumer protection.

Under the Montreal Convention airlines could be required to compensate passengers for all proven damages. This compares to the old system where passenger compensation was potentially capped at an amount set in the 1920s and in a currency which no longer exists.

What’s more, the cap on liability is removed entirely for personal death and injury, unless the airline is able to prove the damage was not caused by negligence.

Already, 86 countries have ratified the Convention including most of Australia’s major aviation markets. In fact, Australia is the only OECD country not to have signed or ratified the Convention, with the USA, Japan, China and New Zealand having ratified it in 2003 and the UK and most European Union countries doing so 2004.

This is yet another example of where the previous Howard Government turned its back on the international community to the detriment of the Australian public.

The new scheme will also benefit airlines by slashing the paperwork associated with passenger and cargo transportation, clearing the way for modern electronic billing systems.

To cope with the grossly inadequate liability limits under the previous international arrangements, many international airlines have already voluntarily begun operating under more generous liability arrangements. As a result, the new arrangements are not expected to increase travel or insurance costs.

The multi-national Montreal Convention was negotiated in 1999 and applies to flights between countries which have signed on to the scheme.

It is expected to become operational on flights out of Australia within six months of the Bill passing the Parliament and Australia finalising treaty processes.

The Montreal Convention updates the liability arrangements of international air carriers.  This includes the liability arrangements for:

  • the injury or death of a passenger;
  • the loss or damage to a passenger’s baggage;
  • the loss or damage to a freight shipment, and
  • delays to the scheduled arrival of a passenger, baggage or freight. 

The Montreal Convention modernises these arrangements to ensure equitable compensation is available to passengers.

Australia is the only OECD country not to have signed the Convention, with the USA, Japan, China and New Zealand having ratified it in 2003 and the UK and every European country doing so 2004.

Old Warsaw System

Modern system – Montreal Convention

Liability Limits

Capped

Unlimited

Claim process

No requirement for passengers to prove fault, but airlines may have access to defences to avoid paying compensation.

No requirement for passengers to prove fault for the first $180,000 of a claim1.

Airlines also liable for damage above $180,000 unless they prove that they are not at fault.

Other Features

The cap on claims was set in 1929, and is set in a currency that no longer exists (the ‘franc poincare consisting of 65.5 milligrams of gold of millesimal fineness 900’).

The liability cap has not been adjusted for inflation. This could potentially result in claims capped at US$10,000.

‘No fault’ threshold determine by ‘Special Drawing Right’ – a basket of international currencies

‘No fault’ thresholds reviewed every five years.

Without proving fault, passengers could claim up to $1,800 for lost baggage, $180,000 for injury or death, $8,000 per person for delays, and $31 per kg for cargo.

1 $180,000 is an approximate figure based on the current exchange rate for the ‘Special Drawing Right’.

Further information on the Montreal Convention is available at:

http://www.infrastructure.gov.au/aviation/international/liability.aspx

Media Contact: Jeff Singleton 0410 476 890

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Mar 20, 2008

Release of Miller Report on Aviation Safety Agency Relations

Release of Miller Report on Aviation Safety Agency Relations

MEDIA RELEASE – The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

Minister for Infrastructure, Transport,

Regional Development and Local Government

20 March 2008

I am today releasing for public comment the report written by Mr Russell Miller AM following his review into the relationship between the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).

Mr Miller undertook the review at the request of the former Transport Minister following comments from the Queensland State Coroner about the observed tensions between the two agencies during the inquest into the tragic accident at Lockhart River in 2005.

I thank Mr Miller for his comprehensive report.

The Rudd Labor Government is committed to the highest standards of aviation safety, an outcome requiring Australia’s transport safety agencies to work together effectively.

While Mr Miller concluded aviation in Australia is safe and that ATSB and CASA are widely considered global leaders in their respective fields, he also found room for improvement in the way they interact.

I am determined to ensure Mr Miller’s detailed recommendations are addressed in a way that strengthens Australia’s international standing in aviation safety and improves safety for the travelling public.

To this end, I am now seeking public input on Mr Miller’s recommendations.

A number of the recommendations are largely administrative in nature and relate to the working arrangements between the agencies. I expect these to be promptly implemented by the agencies.

Other recommendations potentially involve more complex legislative and governance issues.

One group of recommendations relates to refining the protection of information collected during ATSB investigations, namely that in strictly limited circumstances the information should be provided to CASA to facilitate immediate safety action.

Other recommendations go to the governance structure for ATSB.

In considering these recommendations, my aim will be to identify a way forward which will help ATSB and CASA maximise the practical contribution they are able to make to aviation safety.

Comments on the report’s recommendations should be provided to the Secretary of my Department by Friday 30 April. The full report can be accessed at:

http://www.infrastructure.gov.au/aviation/safety/atsb_casa_report.aspx

Background to Mr Russell Miller AM

Mr Russell Miller AM is a senior partner with Minter Ellison Lawyers (ACT). He has extensive experience in aviation and administrative law, and in working with aviation agencies. He was a founding Commissioner of the International Air Services Commission and a former Chair of the International Bar Association’s Aviation Committee, and has held a number of directorships and government appointment.

           ATSB/CASA Review 2007

              Miller Report onAviation Safety Agency Relations

              Summary of Recommendations

 Note: Recommendations 1-6 raise legislative or governance issues and Recommendations 7-10 deal with refinements to protections for the information collected during ATSB investigations. The remaining recommendations are mainly administrative in nature and relate in more detail to working relationships between the two agencies.

Mr Miller’s report, beginning at page 73, contains a detailed summary of all recommendations, including background and references to relevant passages in the report.

Recommendation 1 – TSI Act objects

A subtle but important amendment to the objects in the TSI Act is warranted. The TSI Act should be amended to make it clear that the primary object of the Act is to contribute to improved transport safety. The tasks referred to as current objects in section 7(1) should be a statement of the outcomes the Act is directed to in order to achieve that object.

Recommendation 2 – TSI Act objects: – requirement for co-operation

TSI Act section 7(2) is inappropriately limited. It should provide that, in the performance of the Executive Director’s powers and duties under the Act, the Executive Director is required to co-operate, in the interests of improved transport safety, with CASA, regardless of whether CASA has powers or responsibilities under another law of the Commonwealth to also investigate the matter under investigation by the ATSB. Furthermore, the objective of co-operating with CASA should not be limited to the period during which the ATSB is conducting an investigation.

Recommendation 3 – Policy statements

Consideration should be given to including in the TSI Act a provision to the effect that the Minister may issue policy statements from time-to-time setting out the Government’s policy in relation to the administration of the TSI Act and its role in the Australian transport safety system. Any such policy statement should be general in nature and not relate to a specific investigation. If the ATSB remains a Division of the Department the policy statements should be directed to the Portfolio Secretary and the Executive Director should be required to act in accordance with them. If the Commission model is adopted the Minister’s policy statements should be directed to the Commission.

Recommendation 4 – Policy development

Primary responsibility for policy in relation to proposed amendments to the TSI Act and for Australia’s policy positions at ICAO should be assumed by a policy Division within the Department, with that Division seeking input from the Executive Director and all other relevant stakeholders.

Recommendation 5 – ATSB governance

If the current ATSB governance arrangements remain, there is merit in resolving ambiguities over the ATSB’s roles and responsibilities within the Department. This should include:

(a) the Executive Director, with the agreement of the Portfolio Secretary, appointing an expert peer review panel to review each draft and final investigation report and advise the Executive Director before the reports are issued. The TSI Act could subsequently be amended to provide for this if necessary;

(b) administrative arrangements changing so that the position of Executive Director is filled for a fixed term, thereby reinforcing the autonomy and impartiality of that office in relation to accident and incident investigations; and

(c) the memorandum setting out the Portfolio Secretary’s expectations of the Executive Director being replaced with a new memorandum taking account of the matters set out above.

Recommendation 6 – Alternative ATSB governance

Although there are good reasons for the ATSB to remain in the Minister’s portfolio, consideration should be given to changing the Executive Director’s statutory role and responsibilities and improving the status of the ATSB by establishing an Australian Transport Safety Commission, based on the International Air Services Commission model. The Commission should have the following attributes:

(a) the Commission should consist of three part-time commissioners with broad safety related experience, not all in the aviation field;

(b) the Executive Director should be appointed by the Portfolio Secretary, after consultation with the commissioners, for a term of 3 years;

(c) the Commission should be responsible for approving all draft and final investigation reports, but with power to delegate approval of less significant reports to one commissioner;

(d) the current powers of the Executive Director in the TSI Act should reside in the Commission, with the normal power to delegate to appropriate levels within the ATSB; and

(e) staff of the Commission, including the Executive Director, should be provided by the Department.

Recommendation 7 – Information sharing in the interests of safety

The sharing of information between the Executive Director and CASA, where it is appropriate to do so in the interests of aviation safety, should be facilitated by:

(a) recasting the definition of the term ‘restricted information’ in the TSI Act to limit its scope to the types of information referred to in Annex 13. As presently drafted the term is expressed in significantly broader terms than is appropriate in the interests of aviation safety because it results in information that should be available to CASA to take protective action (but not criminal or civil proceedings against individuals who provided information compulsorily). As defined the term ‘restricted information’ is also significantly broader than the Annex 13 standard (5.12) provides;

 

(b) requiring the Executive Director to disclose restricted information to CASA where the Executive Director has reason to believe that there is a serious and imminent risk to air safety and the information is evidence of that risk. TSI Act section 61 should be amended accordingly; (c) entitling CASA, where it receives evidence from the Executive Director, to use the information as evidence to take protective action where there is a serious and imminent risk to air safety, but not for any other purpose. The CA Act should be amended accordingly; and

(d) providing that, in cases where restricted information is disclosed to CASA to take protective action that requires CASA to present evidence to a court, the court should limit publication of that information to the parties and their representatives.

 

Recommendation 8 – Inadmissibility of compelled evidence

Evidence not publicly available, obtained by the Executive Director compulsorily under section 32 of the TSI Act, should continue to not be admissible against the individual providing the information in any civil or criminal proceedings but should otherwise be available in accordance with other recommendations in this Report.

Recommendation 9 – Court access to information

The TSI Act should be amended to make it clear that:

(a) section 7(3)(b) does not inhibit the Executive Director from sharing "restricted information" with the Department and CASA, in the interests of safety;

(b) the court is entitled to consider whether restricted information should not be disclosed on the basis that it is likely to interfere with an active investigation, rather than the Executive Director being required to give the certificate provided for in section 60(4)(c)(i) before the court can consider the matter.

Recommendation 10 – Section 32 Notices

(a) Except in exceptional circumstances or when requested by CASA, the Executive Director should request information required from CASA for an investigation and expect CASA’s full co-operation in identifying what is required and providing the information in a timely manner without the need for a Section 32 Notice.

(b) CASA should co-operate fully in identifying what is required and providing the information in a timely manner where the ATSB advises CASA that it requires information from CASA in the course of an investigation into an aircraft accident or incident.

(c) Where a Section 32 Notice is to be issued it should, except in exceptional circumstances, only be issued after discussion between the Executive Director and the Director of Aviation Safety.

Recommendation 11 – Building inter-agency understanding

The ATSB and CASA should:

(a) hold regular seminars involving ATSB and CASA staff at the operational level to consider agreed aviation safety issues, including the presentation of research outcomes;

(b) exchange personnel with the main objective being that officers from both agencies obtain the benefit of the training and experience the other agency can offer; and

(c) co-operation with joint research initiatives on matters relating to aviation safety.

 

Recommendation 12 – ATSB/CASA executive meetings

The ATSB and CASA should institute quarterly meetings at Executive level, with a positive agenda. Although the meetings should be strategic and forward-looking, they should also deal with emerging issues between the two agencies.

Recommendation 13 – ATSB Investigations and Reports

(a) During an investigation, where CASA has expertise that might be brought to bear on the likely causes of an accident or incident, the ATSB should utilise that expertise as its investigation progresses, whether by including CASA experts on the investigation team or by regular inter-agency consultations.

(b) Before including safety recommendations in a draft report directed to regulatory changes CASA should make, the ATSB should discuss the proposed recommendations with CASA and take account of CASA’s views, in order to ensure that the ATSB has taken account of all relevant issues that may impact on the relevance and practicality of its proposed recommendation.

(c) Where CASA or any other interested party provides a substantive response to a draft report, the final report should contain a balanced explanation of substantive information or comments provided and the facts supporting them and should set out the Executive Director’s reasons for accepting or rejecting the views expressed.

(d) ATSB reports should speak for themselves. The ATSB should not continue the practice of including press releases in its reports and should give careful consideration to not issue substantive press releases on its reports.

(e) Where the ATSB proposes to issue a substantive press release on an investigation report that refers to another portfolio agency it should provide a copy of the draft press release to the Department and the relevant agency in advance for comment.

Recommendation 14 – CASA’s co-operation with ATSB investigations

CASA should develop an internal system to ensure that it appropriately monitors and co-operates with ATSB investigations relevant to its regulatory functions and adequately resources those responsible for the system. If this is done there is no need for the Minister to issue a direction to CASA in that regard, but the opportunity exists to do so if required.

Recommendation 15 – Monitoring ATSB safety recommendations

(a) Responsibility for registering, monitoring and reporting on progress with ATSB aviation safety recommendations should be assigned to another Division in the Department.

(b) The Portfolio Secretary, or the appropriate Deputy Secretary, should convene a bi-annual meeting of the Executive Director of ATSB, the CEO/Deputy CEO of CASA and the CEO of AMSA to:

(i) receive reports on progress with all active safety recommendations;

(ii) note the reasons for closure of recommendations, including those found by the appropriate regulatory agency to be impractical or unfeasible;

(iii) share, to the extent desirable, information on current investigations and, perhaps, the safety research programs of CASA, AMSA and ATSB; and

(iv) report to the Minister on the “state” of ATSB safety recommendations so that he can form a view on the degree to which the regulatory agencies are pursuing implementation of safety recommendations and the degree to which ATSB is contributing to the improvement of transport safety. Recommendation 16 – Coronial inquests

(a) Recognising that it is the Commonwealth, rather than the ATSB, that is entitled to seek leave to intervene in coronial inquests, decisions to retain counsel to appear for the Commonwealth in coronial enquiries should be the exception rather than the rule. The decision to do so should be made by a senior departmental officer, taking account of the views of the Executive Director and the Department’s Legal Counsel.

(b) Before CASA decides to instruct counsel to appear for it at a coronial inquest CASA should be required to inform the Portfolio Secretary. The Director of Aviation Safety should take account of the Portfolio Secretary’s views in making the decision to seek leave to intervene or not.

(c) CASA should regard itself as obliged to inform ATSB of any view it has, or evidence it proposes to present, suggesting that the ATSB may have overlooked relevant evidence or come to an incorrect expert opinion, prior to presenting the evidence or making the relevant submission to the coroner.

Recommendation 17 – MOU

The agencies should negotiate a new MOU and include matters such as:

(a) a means of encouraging more day-to-day interaction between the agencies when serious accidents and incidents occur;

(b) a review as to whether the current time periods for CASA responses to ATSB reports and safety recommendations should be more flexible, taking account of the need for timely investigation outcomes;

(c) ways of enabling CASA personnel to obtain greater value from participation in ATSB investigations;

(d) a mechanism for developing common safety messages in cases where the agencies have come to different expert views on the causes of the accident or incident;

(e) provision for regular seminars involving the ATSB and CASA staff at the operational level to consider agreed aviation safety issues, including the presentation of research outcomes;

(f) exchanges of personnel between the ATSB and CASA with the main objective being that officers from both agencies obtain the benefit of the training and experience the other agency can offer;

(g) improved co-ordination of research initiatives and education programs on matters relating to aviation safety;

(h) the information that CASA can expect to have disclosed to it the ATSB’s confidential voluntary reporting scheme (REPCON);

(i) guidance on the circumstances in which the Executive Director might be expected to provide information to CASA under the TSI Act and a mechanism for that to occur;

(i) reviews of information holdings of both agencies to see whether greater sharing of data would be beneficial and feasible;

(k) a review of the principles applied by the ATSB in seeking information from CASA (including a reduction in the number of requests for information under section 32 of the TSI Act);

(l) discussion of legislative proposals in areas of interest to both agencies; and

(m) provision for annual reviews of the MOU.

Recommendation 18 – CASA protocols

CASA should develop clear internal protocols setting out the mechanisms for active co-operation with the ATSB, including clear lines of responsibility. CASA should allocate the necessary resources to ensuring that it co-operates fully with the ATSB, provides timely and appropriate feedback to ATSB draft investigation reports and safety recommendations.

Recommendation 19 – Inter-agency meetings

The ATSB and CASA should institute quarterly meetings at the Executive level, with a positive agenda including matters such as:

(a) presentations on each agency’s strategic direction and business/operational plans;

(b) approval of operating protocols;

(c) review of ATSB’s research program;

(d) review of CASA’s progress in implementing or otherwise dealing with ATSB safety recommendations;

(e) international visitor and staff exchange programmes; and

(f) review of joint and individual research projects.

Although the meetings should be strategic and forward-looking, they should also deal with emerging issues between the two agencies.

Mar 20, 2008

Big Rise in Compensation for the victims of oil spills

Big Rise in Compensation for the victims of oil spills

MEDIA RELEASE – The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

Minister for Infrastructure, Transport,

Regional Development and Local Government

20 March 2008

The Rudd Labor Government will make sure oil and shipping companies responsible for oil spills within Australian waters are held financially accountable for the damage caused to our coastal ecosystems and communities.

After years of inaction by the previous government, we are moving quickly to ratify two major international maritime treaties by introducing into the Parliament today the Protection of the Sea (Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage) Bill 2008 and foreshadowing further legislative action in the upcoming winter session.

Every year some 3,500 cargo vessels as well as more than 200 oil tankers and chemical carriers navigate through Australian waters, including near environmental icons such as Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef and Western Australia’s Ningaloo Reef.

The Government must and will do more to protect our nation’s fragile environmental assets for current and future generations.

Protection of the Sea (Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage) Bill 2008

This legislation will place into Australian law the International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage, 2001 – a multilateral agreement requiring ship owners to take out insurance to cover their liabilities in the event their vessels spill fuel (bunker) oil.

Bunker oil is used to drive ships’ engines and has been historically the most persistent form of oil pollution. It is very difficult to clean up and can have a potentially devastating impact on coastal communities and livelihoods as well as marine and coastal wildlife.

While Australia legislated in 2001 to require ships entering Australian ports to have documentation on board demonstrating they have insurance coverage, they can only be held accountable for spills IF the shipowner is found to be at fault.

If our new legislation isn’t passed by the Parliament then clean up and compensation costs will continue, in most cases, to be borne by the Australian taxpayer.

Ratification of the Convention will help strengthen the Government’s approach to marine pollution within a consistent framework of strict liability and compulsory insurance.

This legislation will mean that ships entering Australian waters will be strictly liable for bunker oil spills and will have to carry compulsory insurance to cover any pollution damage, including the cost of clean-up and the economic losses incurred by innocent third parties.

In addition, the ship’s insurer will be liable if there is any difficulty in recovering damages from the ship owner.

The maximum amount of compensation available depends on the size of the ship involved. For example, for a typical container ship with a gross tonnage of 35,000, the maximum compensation payable for one particular incident is about $24 million.

This Convention will allow governments to go further in cost recovery and compensation payments than is normally allowed in domestic legislation.

Protection of the Sea Legislation Amendment Bill 2008

In addition to the legislation being introduced today, the Rudd Labor Government also intends to introduce further legislation in the forthcoming winter sittings of Parliament to strengthen the existing compensation regime that applies to oil spills from oil tankers.

The legislation will increase the existing maximum compensation level from approximately $360 million to about $1.33 billion.

This will ensure that should a major oil spill occur on the Australian coastline, the organisations responsible will provide appropriate levels of compensation.

These two pieces of legislation will strengthen Australia’s maritime environment protection framework and align it with international best practice.

Mar 20, 2008

Round 2 open for Airstrip upgrades in remote Australia

Round 2 open for Airstrip upgrades in remote Australia

MEDIA RELEASE – The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

Minister for Infrastructure, Transport,

Regional Development and Local Government

20 March 2008

The Australian Government is calling for applications under the second round of its $22 million Remote Aerodrome Safety Program (RASP).

The first round generated widespread interest amongst remote and isolated communities, with a total of 25 aerodromes across the country receiving around $1 million to help improve their safety and accessibility.

I can now confirm that a further $5 million will be made available for: 

  •  Repairing and upgrading runway surfaces; 
  •  Safety equipment such as runway lighting and navigation aids; and
  • Infrastructure such as animal proof fences.

The scheme does not cover works that involve terminals, hangars, buildings or on-airport commercial developments.

Through RASP, the Australian Government is helping to maintain access to air services to the nation’s remote and isolated communities such as essential supplies, mail, passenger transport and medical care like that provided by the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

This is particularly important where road access is unavailable, unreliable or disrupted for extended periods due to the wet season.

A key feature of the program is the participation of state, territory and local governments.

I look forward to continuing this partnership in Round 2 of the program to deliver on the urgent needs of communities in remote Australia.

Project applications will be assessed through a cooperative process including relevant Australian Government agencies and the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Applications must be submitted by Thursday, 24 April 2008.

Application forms, guidelines and further information are available from my Department’s website:

http://www.infrastructure.gov.au/transport/programs/aviation/rasp_programme.aspx

Mar 7, 2008

More Seats on Routes between Australia and Malaysia

More Seats on Routes between Australia and Malaysia

MEDIA RELEASE – The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

Minister for Infrastructure, Transport,

Regional Development and Local Government

7 March 2008

More flights and lower fares between Australia and Malaysia may be possible in the future following the signing of a new air services agreement.

Senior officials from my Department have met with their Malaysian counterparts and signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which expands the number of seats on the routes between our two countries.

Under the MOU, Malaysian and Australian carriers will be able to operate an additional 5,000 seats per week to our major gateway airports of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth from March 2008, with an additional 3,500 seats to be made available from March 2009.

The previous arrangement restricted capacity to these airports to 15,000 seats per week for Malaysian carriers and 20,600 seats per week for Australian carriers.

In addition, the new one-off arrangement provides unlimited access to and from airports other than the four major gateway airports.

The MOU reflects the strong bilateral relationship between our two countries.

The new arrangement will give Australian airlines the opportunity to significantly expand their current levels of services and to compete effectively in the Asian market.

It will allow Malaysian airlines such as AirAsia X to proceed with their planned expansion into Australia, with Australian travellers expected to reap the benefits of lower fares.

AirAsia X currently operates four services per week into the Gold Coast and is looking to expand its operations to other airports including Avalon. Ultimately Australian travellers, trade and tourism will benefit from the increased competition and greater choice when travelling to Malaysia, and onto other parts of Asia and Europe.

Any new airlines wishing to take up the commercial opportunities available under the new arrangements will need to obtain relevant regulatory approvals before commencing operations, including meeting Australia’s stringent aviation safety and security requirements.

The new agreement becomes effective immediately, pending formal approval of the new treaty by the respective Governments.

This new agreement with Malaysia follows last month’s historic ‘open skies’ agreement with the United States.

Feb 29, 2008

Road Safety and Productivity Package

Road Safety and Productivity Package

MEDIA RELEASE – The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

Minister for Infrastructure, Transport,

Regional Development and Local Government

29 February 2008

New ‘black box’ technology that makes it more difficult for truckies to drive for too long or at high speeds are amongst the measures contained in the Rudd Labor Government’s $70 million plan to tackle the ongoing loss of life on Australian roads.

Upon becoming Infrastructure and Transport Minister, I was shocked to learn that the National Road Safety Strategy target of a 40 percent reduction in road deaths by 2010 was unlikely to be achieved.

This is simply not good enough and should be a call to action for all governments, industry, as well as the broader community.

The plan I’m announcing today demonstrates my determination to work with the states and territories, as well as industry to substantially cut the number of speed and fatigue related road fatalities.

Significantly, about one in five road deaths involve heavy vehicles, with speed a factor in around 30 per cent of these crashes and driver fatigue in up to 60 per cent.

Action to improve speed and fatigue enforcement is the key to achieving a substantial reduction in road deaths.

Accordingly, the Rudd Labor Government’s $70 million, four year Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Plan will fund:

  •  Trials of technologies that electronically monitor a truck driver’s work hours and vehicle speed – one using an onboard ‘black box’ or electronic log, and one which makes use of the Global Positioning System (GPS);
  • The construction of more heavy vehicle rest stops and parking areas along our highways and on the outskirts of our major cities; and
  • Upgrades to freight routes so they can carry bigger loads.

It is our intention to directly involve the trucking industry in the process of putting the available funds to the best possible use.

At the same time we will work with the states and territories to investigate the introduction of mandatory, periodic health checks for heavy vehicle drivers,  as well as undertake further work on new national standards for random drug and alcohol testing.

At present, the small minority of truck drivers that don’t follow the rules threaten the safety of all road users – including themselves – and leave responsible truck drivers at a competitive disadvantage.

As well as improving road safety, our Plan will help lift national productivity by funding upgrades to the road network such as the strengthening of bridges.

This targeted investment in the road network will open more roads to heavy vehicles, freeing up the movement of freight across the country and easing congestion.

This much greater investment in road safety and transport productivity has been made possible by today’s agreement amongst the nation’s transport ministers to overhaul and introduce fairer heavy vehicle charges.

Under the new regime recommended by the National Transport Commission (NTC), registration fees for 25 percent of the nation’s 365,000 heavy vehicles will be cut, while the fees on 69 per cent of the fleet will rise by between one and ten percent.

While larger increases are proposed for the six percent of heavy vehicles that currently don’t pay their fair share, they will be phased-in over three years to minimise the impact on the industry.

The component of the heavy vehicle charge collected by the Commonwealth from fuel used by trucks and buses – the Road User Charge – will be increased by 1.367 cents per litre and indexed to cover future road costs.

After discussions with the industry, as well as my state and territory colleagues, it has been decided that the increase to the Road User Charge will take effect from 1 January 2009 – not 1 July 2008 as recommended by the NTC.

It is important that heavy vehicles pay their fair share of road construction costs as well as for the damage they do to the road network – a principle embraced by successive governments as well as the transport industry.

At present this is not happening.

In December 2006, the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Road and Rail Infrastructure concluded the existing charges are insufficient and that the heaviest vehicles are not paying for the damage they cause, while lighter trucks are paying too much.

The increase in the Road User Charge will ensure all heavy vehicles types pay their fair share and will have only a marginal impact on a vehicle’s operating costs.

I also note that the Charge has not been increased for seven years.

We have carefully considered the proposed changes taking into account industry and stakeholder feedback, received during the consultation period that followed the release of the draft Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) last July.

While a 2010 national target of 5.6 deaths per 100,000 was agreed to by the previous government, the eventual figure is likely to be much higher with the current rate sitting at 7.7.

The annual economic cost of road accidents – in terms of loss of life, injury and damage to public and private infrastructure – is estimated at $18 billion and rising.

Jan 21, 2008

Rudd Government to dramatically overhaul national infrastructure policy

Rudd Government to dramatically overhaul national infrastructure policy

Kevin Rudd – Prime Minister

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

Minister for Infrastructure, Transport

Regional Development and Local Government

21 January 2008

Federal Cabinet today formally approved the establishment of Infrastructure Australia, a key driver in the Rudd Government’s plan to fight inflation.

Infrastructure Australia will help fight inflation by boosting the economy’s productive capacity, unlocking infrastructure bottlenecks like clogged ports and congested roads.

Infrastructure Australia represents a dramatic shift in national economic policy, bringing national leadership to infrastructure development for the first time since Federation.

Legislation establishing Infrastructure Australia will be introduced during the first session of the new Parliament.

The Rudd Government will develop a strategic blueprint for Australia’s infrastructure needs and ensure future projects are determined by economic, social, and environmental needs – not short-term political interests.

Infrastructure Australia will be a statutory advisory council with twelve members drawn from industry, government and local government. This will include five from the private sector, one of whom will be the chair. Infrastructure Australia will:

  • Conduct audits to determine the adequacy, capacity and condition of nationally significant infrastructure, including transport, water, communications and energy.
  • Develop an Infrastructure Priority List to guide billions of dollars of public and private investment.
  • Provide advice to governments, investors and owners of infrastructure on regulatory reforms that can improve the utilisation of our infrastructure networks.

Infrastructure Australia’s immediate task will be to audit the nation’s infrastructure shortfalls and produce an Infrastructure Priority List to guide billions of dollars of public and private investment.

The first Infrastructure Priority List will be completed within 12 months. In developing the List, Infrastructure Australia will assess projects in terms of specific goals, such as:

  • Meeting water and energy needs;
  • Saving time for commuters battling traffic congestion in our major cities
  • Efficiently moving freight from regional areas to our ports.
  • Meeting the challenge of climate change

Infrastructure Australia will also review the extent to which governments can better facilitate infrastructure investment, including through public-private partnerships as well as better planning and approval processes.

The task ahead for Infrastructure Australia is considerable.

The OECD ranks Australia 20th out 25 countries when it comes to investment in public infrastructure as a proportion of national income.

For 11 years the Howard-Costello Government failed to act on Australia’s infrastructure needs.

The Rudd Government is committed to investing in Australia’s future and addressing our nation’s long-term infrastructure bottlenecks.

Contact Anthony

(02) 9564 3588 Electorate Office

Email: [email protected]

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