Transport Minister Darren Chester must explain his plans for Australia’s aviation sector after the Coalition was re-elected without even producing a policy statement in this critical area.
Aviation is a $30 billion industry that employs thousands of Australians and its safe and efficient operation is critical to our transport and tourism sectors, as well as for exports.
As the level of government responsible for aviation safety, the Commonwealth should be able to articulate a clear plan for the operation of the sector and its ongoing growth.
Yet Malcolm Turnbull and Mr Chester did not even bother to produce an aviation policy in the lead-up to the July 2 election.
This is particularly concerning given recent media reports suggesting Airservices Australia, responsible for maintaining air traffic and emergency services at airports, plans to reduce its workforce of 4400 people by 900 to cut costs.
The plan became public during the election caretaker period. Airservices Australia has already reportedly called for voluntary redundancies.
Labor is concerned that the reported cuts will have a negative effect on aviation safety.
Mr Chester should clarify what steps he has taken to satisfy himself that the job cuts will not reduce Australia’s aviation safety standards.
The travelling public and industry participants deserve nothing less.
In contrast to the Coalition’s policy black hole on aviation, Labor produced a comprehensive aviation policy plan last month, covering all aspects of aviation including safety, security, air traffic management, the general aviation sector, protection of cabotage, industry skills, consumer protection, aircraft noise and airport planning and development.
Having failed to produce his own aviation blueprint, Mr Chester should embrace Labor’s strategy, which builds on our 2009 production of the nation’s first Aviation White Paper.