Address to TTF Summit: Leadership 2010
The Hon Anthony Albanese MP
The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport,
Regional Development and Local Government
Leader of the House
Member for Grayndler
23 June 2010
Thank you for the invitation to join you this morning. It is always good to have the opportunity to speak to TTF. With a 200 strong membership across our vital transport and tourism sectors, you represent one of the most important, forward-looking and resilient industry groups in this country.
The Canadian financial writer Robert G. Allen is quoted as saying: “The future you see is the future you get”. As you know, the Rudd Labor Government came to office with a strong vision, and we have set about putting the building blocks in place to secure a more productive and fairer future for all Australians. I thank you for the collaborative way TTF has worked with us to achieve these goals.
Australia has endured the global financial crisis better than most – thanks, in no small part, to the Rudd Government’s decisive action to implement the Nation Building Economic Stimulus Plan.
Indeed, while the rest of the world faced recession, the Australian economy grew by 1.4 per cent. Australia emerged from the global recession among the best-performing advanced economies, with unemployment around half that of the US and Europe, and a budget deficit a small fraction of other developed countries.
The performance of Australia’s aviation industry, just like our economy, has also stood the test, and emerged with a 1.3 per cent growth in both domestic and international passenger numbers, with recent growth even more encouraging.
A recent report by the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics, predicts that the number of people moving through our capital city airports will climb by 140 per cent to 235 million by 2030.
And when we look around the world, we know that aviation was definitely affected by the global recession. The US recorded a fall in total passenger numbers of 5.2 per cent, the UK recorded a fall of 7.2 per cent, Germany a fall of 4.8 per cent, and Spain a fall of 8.1 per cent.
There is a clear link of activity in aviation to general economic activity, and the Government’s stimulus plan kept confidence in the Australian economy and aviation.
The aviation industry directly employs around 50,000 people, indirectly supports around half a million jobs, delivers essential services to remote communities and contributes $6.3 billion to the national economy.
Given that all the major players in the industry are TTF members, I think it is fitting this morning for me to concentrate on aviation.
What I want to do is to bring you a six month progress report on implementing the initiatives of the Aviation White Paper – Australia’s first national aviation policy.
Aviation White Paper
In December 2009, the Government released Australia’s first ever National Aviation Policy White Paper Flight Path to the Future. The White Paper provides a long-term, forward-thinking policy for an industry of national strategic importance – an industry that helps to keep Australians connected to each other and to the rest of the world.
TTF and its members played a constructive role in developing the White Paper and I want to thank all of those who contributed through submissions or direct engagement with my Department.
Safety and Security
As the policy initiatives in the White Paper are being rolled out, safety and security remain the number one priority for the Government. The 125 million passengers that pass through our airports every year, and the millions of Australians living near airports, expect and deserve nothing less than our continued vigilance. While Australia has an enviable safety record, the Rudd Labor Government isn’t taking the future for granted.
The 2010-11 Budget provides an unprecedented boost for aviation. An extra $237.2 million will be invested to bolster public confidence in the safety of air travel and to put in place the infrastructure needed to support continued growth and employment opportunities.
CASA, the nation’s independent aviation safety watchdog, will recruit almost 100 additional frontline staff with the $89.9 million in new funding provided by the Budget. This extra investment in safer skies will be funded via a small increase in the aviation fuel excise, from 2.8 cents per litre to 3.5 cents per litre. The Government considers this to be a reasonable and responsible step considering the industry’s continued growth depends on the public’s ongoing confidence in its safety standards. Following the ICAO and FAA audits this investment in CASA’s staff and training is critical, and will strengthen the organisation’s oversight of the industry. Aviation safety should be bi-partisan, and the Government puts the safety of passengers ahead of other interests
It is important to remember that, in the White Paper, the Government made clear it would cap any further increases in CASA regulatory service charges at Consumer Price Index levels for at least five years. In the Budget we did just that.
Airservices Australia is also investing $900 million in new and upgraded air traffic control systems and aerodrome rescue and fire fighting services.
I am very pleased at the work being done together by the Royal Australian Air Force and Airservices Australia to implement an integrated, cutting-edge national air traffic management system. This is a major commitment from the Aviation White Paper. We are getting on with the job, and Airservices and the RAAF are making good progress to develop and implement harmonised civil and military air traffic management systems.
In addition, a new Aviation Training Package is now delivering Australia-wide standards and qualifications for pilots and other aviation workers. These are important steps considering the industry’s continued growth depends on the public’s ongoing confidence in its safety standards.
The Government announced on Tuesday 9 February a comprehensive package of measures to strengthen Australia’s aviation security regime against emerging threats. These measures are consistent with the security strategy set out in the White Paper and the National Security Adviser’s review of aviation security in light of the attempted terrorist attack on a US-bound flight on Christmas Day.
The Budget allocated $200 million to the rollout of the Aviation Security Package. No single measure can prevent an attack, but the Government is taking steps to minimise the security risks in aviation. The Government is working with industry to enhance passenger and cargo screening, improve training for screening staff, increase the number of sniffer dogs, improve policing and enhance international cooperation.
The Budget provided $8.5 million to undertake the long-term planning to ensure that Sydney continues to be served by world class aviation infrastructure. The fact is that Sydney needs additional aviation capacity. The movement cap at Kingsford Smith Airport will stay. The curfew will stay. Unless we develop a second airport Sydney will start to lose economic opportunities.
The aviation plan for the Sydney region will identify potential sites for a second airport, the additional road and rail infrastructure that will be required, and the planning and investment strategies that will deliver this additional capacity.
This is another important White paper commitment, and the Aviation Strategic Plan will be completed in mid 2011. The steering committee includes TTF’s Chris Brown and my Departmental Secretary, Mike Mrdak, who will be speaking with you later this morning.
Our regions and our cities are interdependent. The transport links that keep us connected – by air, by road and by rail – are crucial to keeping communities connected and the supply chain functioning.
Sydney Airport is crucial for business in Sydney, but it is also a vital transport hub for regional communities. In the 12 months to March, nearly 62,000 regional airline flights flew into and out of Sydney Airport, carrying almost two million passengers. The Government has taken action to make sure that regional airlines continue to have reasonable access and reasonable pricing at Sydney Airport. Delivering on another White Paper commitment, earlier this month the Government issued a Declaration limiting increases in charges for regional airlines at Sydney Airport to CPI levels.
Aviation services can also be a life line for remote communities and we have provided $20 million for projects under the Remote Aerodromes Safety Program. $8.1 million has been provided for airstrip upgrades at remote indigenous communities and funding for the Remote Air Services Subsidy Scheme has been increased to ensure essential services to 244 remote communities.
In addition, the Government has provided almost $1.1 million to Wagga Wagga City Council to install an Instrument Landing System technology to enable the city’s airport to remain open during adverse weather conditions. I announced this funding at the end of May while officially opening the new Australian Airline Pilot Academy. The academy will become an aviation skills and training hub in the Riverina region. These initiatives represent a major boost for regional aviation and our collective effort towards training the pilots needed to support the continued growth of Australia’s aviation industry.
I also want to thank those of you who have provided submissions to Airservices Australia’s review of terminal navigation service pricing. The review is being undertaken with a view to establishing a framework that facilitates the enhancement of air traffic services around Australia. This is particularly important when new or enhanced services are required at locations like Broome and Karratha. When completed, this review will help inform the new long term pricing agreement planned to take effect from 1 July 2011.
On the international front, an open skies agreement has been finalised with the US with four airlines – including new entrants V Australia and Delta Airlines – now operating direct services between Australia and the US mainland.
We have also participated in two rounds of positive negotiations on a comprehensive open skies agreement with the European Union. We have secured additional capacity on routes to and from China, the UAE, Malaysia, South Africa, Thailand, and other major trading partners. Securing these agreements has the potential to deliver significant and far-reaching benefits for our economy, and for airlines and passengers.
The Government will always put the national interest first.
The Government is taking a very active role in ICAO, developing a global approach to managing international aviation’s contribution to climate change.
Airservices will also continue to work closely with the community and industry to develop and implement efficient industry practices to save fuel and reduce emissions. While navigation technology such as RNP offers potential safety and environmental benefits, the Government will only introduce this technology if it assists in fairer noise sharing.
The Government is establishing a new Aircraft Noise Ombudsman to provide an opportunity for local residents to raise issues about aircraft noise and to improve consultation and the flow of information to the public.
The Government has banned older, noisy hush-kitted jets at Australia’s major airports. Those of you who live in Sydney will be familiar with the unwelcome roar of a hush-kitted 727 which takes off around 10pm every night. Not for much longer. The industry has had plenty of notice to modernise the freight fleet and, under regulations I have established, these flights will cease from 1 September this year.
Aviation Consumer Issues
We have also addressed a number of important consumer issues over the past six months. We have passed legislation that gives Australians flying overseas improved access to higher levels of compensation in the event of an airline accident. We have reinstated ACCC monitoring of car parks at the big airports. We have established the Aviation Access Working Group to explore options for improving access to aviation by people with a disability. We are working with airlines to ensure better industry standards of complaint handling. And we have announced that the Productivity Commission review of economic regulation of airports will be brought forward to this year.
Airports Amendment Bill
We’ve achieved a lot in the last six months, but the work has not stopped.
Tomorrow I will be introducing the Airports Amendment Bill to Parliament. This will give effect to the airport planning policies announced in the White Paper. Airports serve as significant transport and economic hubs, handling over 120 million passenger movements in 2008-09 and generating hundreds of thousands of jobs, both directly and indirectly. As airports get busier and our major cities grow, airport planning assumes an increased importance. It is vital for airports and for the amenity of surrounding communities that airport development plans be properly integrated with land use planning around airports. The Government is strongly committed to better urban planning – and that includes improving the planning framework for airports
The development of Flight Path to the Future has been collaborative. TTF hosted the release the Issues Paper in Melbourne on 10 April 2008. The Green Paper was released on 3 December 2008. And the White paper was released on 16 December 2009. The long-term vision for aviation has 134 policy initiatives, and they are being put into legislation, regulation and action one by one.
We have delivered more aviation reform in 2 ½ years than our opponents did in 12.
I look forward to our continued collaboration.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.