The Coalition Government has axed funding for remote airport upgrades, putting remote communities across Australia at risk of being cut off from vital services and emergency medical care.
Today in Senate estimates it was confirmed the Coalition Government has axed the Remote Airstrip Upgrade (RAU) component of the Regional Aviation Access Program (RAAP) from 2015-16.
The program provides funding to improve the safety of airstrips in remote and isolated communities in Australia, and for services which are not commercially viable but essential for the social and economic well-being of the communities they serve.
JOHN DOHERTY, ACTING DEPUTY SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF INFRASTRUCTURE AND REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT: The airstrips funding component is funded at this stage only to 2014-15.
SENATE ESTIMATES, 27 MAY 2014
The Government’s own Portfolio Budget Statements (p.67) describes the program as ‘vital for the provision of access to essential air services such as the Royal Flying Doctor Service.’
The former Labor Government provided funding for 181 remote airport upgrades projects nationally under the Regional Aviation Access Program, investing more than $260 million to build and upgrade regional and remote airports across Australia.
This includes $61 million for subsidised remote community flights over six years in government compared to the former Howard Government’s allocation of just $16 million over the same period of time.
Cutting funding to remote airports will risk lives, and limit the economic participation and wellbeing of people living in remote communities across Australia.