Jun 17, 2010

Abbott & Truss continue to play politics with aviation safety

Abbott & Truss continue to play politics with aviation safety

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport

Regional Development and Local Government

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

June 17 2010

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and his Shadow Transport Minister Warren Truss are continuing to play politics with the legislation which will give our independent aviation safety watchdog, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, extra resources.

The Federal Coalition’s decision to refer the legislation off to a Senate committee is yet another example of their bloody minded opposition to everything, particularly given it has already been extensively scrutinised.

The decision to put CASA on a more sustainable financial footing and to fund it with a small increase in the aviation fuel excise, was announced in last month’s Federal Budget. Further details were provided in my Budget media release and Portfolio Budget Statement – two documents Mr Truss appears not to have read.

Since then two bipartisan Senate committees have raised no concerns, with the Economic Legislation Committee even going as far as to state:

“…by unanimous decision, [the Committee] has determined that there are no substantive matters that require examination.”

What’s more, the decisions we took in the Federal Budget followed two years of consultations with the industry, culminating in the Aviation White Paper released by the Government last December.

Our actions were also a response to the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s 2008 audit of Australia’s aviation safety system which identified room improvement, including the need for CASA to increase its technical staff and provide greater technical training.

While Australia has an enviable safety record, the Rudd Labor Government isn’t taking future success as a given. The 100 million passengers that fly through our skies every year expect and deserve nothing less than our continued vigilance.

The former Howard Government raised the fuel excise 11 times in 12 years.

BACKGROUND:

The legislation introduced by the Rudd Labor Government and opposed by the Federal Coalition – Excise Tariff Amendment (Aviation Fuel) Bill 2010 – would give effect to the decision taken in this year’s Budget to increase to the aviation fuel excise from $0.02854 to $0.03556 per litre.

Importantly, every single cent of the extra revenue raised would go to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), delivering a 30 per cent increase over four years to its annual budget.

CASA will use this extra funding to:

  • Employ 97 additional safety specialists, safety analysts and airworthiness inspectors and other staff, allowing the organisation to expand its surveillance activities and fulfil its increasingly complex regulatory responsibilities.
  • Provide expanded and ongoing training to its staff.
  • Make permanent random alcohol and drug testing as well as a number of other programs which until now had been funded on a temporary or ad hoc basis.
  • Make sure the Office of Airspace Regulation continues to have the resources to properly regulate and administer Australia’s airspace, an area covering almost 11 per cent of the earth’s surface.

The Government’s actions were also a response to the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s 2008 audit of Australia’s aviation safety system which identified room improvement, including the need for CASA to increase its technical staff and provide greater technical training.