May 11, 2010

Budget delivers an unprecedented boost to aviation

Budget delivers an unprecedented boost to aviation

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport

Regional Development and Local Government

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

May 11 2010

The Rudd Government will invest an extra $237.2 million to bolster public confidence in the safety of air travel and to put in place the infrastructure needed to support continued growth and jobs in this vital industry.

The new funding upholds the Government’s commitments to aviation security and expands on the measures outlined in the nation’s first ever Aviation White Paper which was published last December.

The White Paper delivers a comprehensive, long term plan for an industry which supports more than half a million jobs, delivers essential services to remote communities and contributes $6.3 billion to the national economy.

This investment in aviation safety is part of the Rudd Government’s plan to strengthen our economy and secure our future.

More resources for aviation safety:

Over the next twelve months the nation’s independent aviation safety watchdog will recruit almost 100 additional frontline staff with the $89.9 million in new funding it secured in the 2010-11 Budget.

The unprecedented 30 per cent increase over four years to the annual budget of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) will strengthen the organisation’s oversight of the industry.

CASA will use their 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.

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.

Our large additional investment in CASA’s highly professional workforce builds on the reforms we’ve made to the organisation’s governance arrangements with the appointment of a small board of experts to oversee its strategic direction.

This extra investment in safer skies will be funded via a small increase in the aviation fuel excise (from $0.02854 to $0.03556 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.

Strengthening aviation security:

The better enforcement of safety standards within the industry will complement the record resources and new technologies being put in place to protect aircraft, airports and the flying public from acts of terrorism.

The 2010-11 Budget allocates almost $200 million to the rollout of the new and additional measures contained in the Aviation Security Package announced by the Prime Minister on 9 February 2010.

Recent events have shown that terrorist organisations are continuing to adapt their techniques and strategies in an effort to target innocent people. Although no single measure can prevent an attack, new technologies, better training and greater domestic and international cooperation can help us stay one step ahead of them.

The 2010-11 Budget provides:

  • $28.5 million to help industry introduce a range of new technologies at passenger screening points, including the latest body scanners, next generation multi-view x-ray machines and bottle scanners capable of detecting liquid-based explosives. From early 2011, body scanners will be introduced progressively as an additional screening measure at screening points servicing international departing passengers.
  • $32.0 million over four years to bring forward screening at a number of additional regional airports currently served by larger passenger turbo-prop aircraft.
  • $18.2 million over four years ($5.1 million in 2010-11) to strengthen engagement and cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond, and to improve security on international flights.
  • $54.2 million over four years ($4.1 million in 2010-11) to assist the air cargo industry install x-ray screening and explosive trace detection technology at selected locations.

This funding will also establish a regulated shipper scheme, allowing for the identification of high-risk cargo for technical examination.

More remote airstrips to be upgraded:

Even more airstrips in remote parts of the country will be upgraded and made safer, with the 2010-11 Budget providing $5.9 million to extend the Remote Aviation Infrastructure Fund for a further two years.

The Rudd Labor Government is acting to give regional Australians access to the basic services city residents take for granted such as essential supplies, mail, passenger transport and medical care.

In fact, for remote communities whose road access is poor or disrupted for extended periods during the wet season, the local airstrip is a vital lifeline. If these Australians are to continue reaping the economic and social benefits of aviation, we need to continue investing in their airstrips.

The new funding will upgrade up to 19 airstrips from a ‘charter’ safety standard to the higher ‘regular public transport’ standard, with the likely work ranging from the laying of an all-weather runway to the relocation of the airstrip away from hilly terrain.

The allocation of funding will be prioritised on the basis of need in consultation with CASA.

The new money builds on last year’s initial allocation of $3.0 million, with $3.9 million to be spent in 2010-11 and a further $2.0 million in the following financial year.

This Fund is in addition to the ongoing Remote Aerodrome Safety Program (RASP), which helps local communities fund routine maintenance on and repairs to their airstrips.

Investing in the nation’s international gateway:

The 2010-11 Budget provides $8.5 million to undertake the long term planning which will make sure one of the nation’s international gateways, Sydney, continues to be served by world class aviation infrastructure.

The Aviation Strategic Plan for the Sydney Region will identify potential sites for a second Sydney airport, the additional road and rail infrastructure that will be required and investment strategies that will deliver this additional capacity.

The Plan – which will be developed in partnership with the NSW Government and is expected to be finalised in the first half of 2011 – will also consider the future use of the Badgerys Creek site given it has been ruled out as a location for a future airport.

The funding being provided will be used to review existing airport capacity, and to undertake a comprehensive analysis of the aviation needs of the Sydney region.

While there have been many studies and reviews highlighting the need for a second airport, this is the first time a forward, long term integrated infrastructure planning process has been undertaken.

Without action, Sydney’s existing aviation infrastructure will struggle to cope with the continuing growth in passenger numbers which is predicted to more than double to 72.9 million by 2029-30.

As the existing Airport gets busier, the supporting road and rail infrastructure will become more congested, delays more frequent and nearby residents exposed to even longer periods of aircraft noise.

The national interest dictates that Sydney will need new airport capacity, with further delay only likely to jeopardise jobs within the tourism industry and hinder growth within the wider economy.

The membership and terms of reference of the taskforce developing the Plan were announced in conjunction with the release of the Aviation White Paper last December.