Aug 27, 2016

Government must preserve air safety standards

The Turnbull Government must guarantee that plans to cut 900 of the 4500 jobs at AirServices Australia will not compromise emergency fire-fighting capacity at the nation’s airports.

Transport Minister Darren Chester must also immediately rule out the closure of fire-fighting facilities regional airports in communities including Coffs Harbour, Broome, Newman, Gladstone and Ayers Rock.

The Government is considering a proposal to cut costs by closing firefighting facilities at regional airports which have less than 500,000 passenger movements a year.

Mr Chester must also assure Australians that the job cuts, confirmed in recent days by AirServices Australia, are not part of a plan to reduce the organisation’s costs ahead of selling it to the private sector.

Earlier this year the Government received a report by consultant KPMG which recommended it consider privatising AirServices Australia as part of a shake-up of the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development.

The Government has kept the report secret and recently rejected my attempts to secure its release under Freedom of Information laws.

Labor is deeply concerned about the implications of the jobs cuts and the possibility of privatising Air Services Australia.

This organisation is critical to Australian aviation safety and should remain in public hands.

Australia’s excellent air safety record is no accident.

It is the result of many years of bi-partisan support for government control of air safety services and the enforcement of the strictest safety standards.

It is time for Mr Chester to rule out privatization and explain how cutting 900 out of 4500 staff could possibly occur without a reduction in safety standards.