May 2, 2010

Opening address to Airservices’ 2010 Waypoint Conference

Opening address to Airservices’ 2010 Waypoint Conference

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport,

Regional Development and Local Government

Member for Grayndler

02 June 2010

It is a pleasure to open Airservices’ 10th Waypoint Conference.

This is a valuable opportunity for Government and the aviation industry to reflect on the past year, and to talk about how we will continue to work together to support Australian aviation.

And we need to move forward together because Australia has a relatively small population spread across a vast island continent. We are located in a remote corner of the globe. And more than most other countries, Australia relies heavily on aviation for our development. We are a stronger economy and community because of the contribution made by aviation.

Last year at this event, I talked about the tough times the industry was experiencing. I talked about the resilience of our aviation industry.

The global financial crisis and more recently the volcano in Iceland demonstrate the vulnerability of the global aviation market.

The performance of Australia’s aviation industry, just like our economy, has been outstanding in the face of the worst global economic recession in 75 years.

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.

Australia has the highest growth, second lowest unemployment, and lowest debt and deficit amongst advanced nations. All but one of the world’s developed economies has been in recession. That’s us.

In 2009, other advanced economies contracted by over 3 per cent. And we know that aviation throughout the world was similarly affected. 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.

Release of BITRE publications

Today I am releasing three publications from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics that show a remarkable picture.

These publications, – the Domestic Airline Activity 2009, International Airline Activity 2009 and Avline 2008-09 – show that while the global industry was suffering severe turbulence, the Australian aviation industry grew.

Total passenger numbers domestic and internationalfor 2009 show growth of 1.3 per cent in Australia. There was growth in both domestic and international passenger numbers.

The aviation industry directly benefited from the Australian economy avoiding the global recession. The Government’s $42 billion stimulus plan kept the arteries of our economy pumping during the global recession.

And the resilience of the Australian aviation industry is testament to the timely stimulus put in place by this Government. A stimulus plan that kept Australians in jobs…kept Australians confident…and kept Australians travelling for work and for holidays. The proof is in the numbers.

Of course, this is consistent with what was happening across the economy: when the world faced recession, the Australian economy grew by 1.4 per cent

And there are continuing good signs for our domestic passenger numbers. On top of growth in November and December last year, early data for 2010 shows continuing growth in the Australian industry, with domestic passengers up by 3.9 per cent for the first quarter.

And the report on International Airline Activity for 2009 also has some telling data. The report shows that international scheduled passenger traffic in Australia increased by 4 per cent last year. In 2009, Australia had the highest level of international passenger traffic ever, with 24.4 million passengers. In comparison, ICAO figures show total world international traffic in 2009 was down 3.9 per cent. Australia was a notable exception to this global downturn. International passengers are also up by 12.2 per cent for the first quarter of 2010.

All these numbers are important. Not only did the Australian industry grow when air traffic through the rest of the world was falling, but importantly, many thousands of Australians in the aviation industry kept their jobs. Australia’s aviation industry directly employs 50,000 Australians, and supports a further half a million jobs throughout the economy, especially in the tourism and the hospitality industry.

When the Government formulated the stimulus plan, it was those jobs we were protecting.

The Rudd Government is committed to policies that deliver jobs and investment today, while we build the infrastructure for the future. That is true for the Government’s policies in aviation.

Aviation White Paper

Last December I released Australia’s first National Aviation Policy White Paper. The White Paper provides a long-term, forward-thinking policy for an industry of national strategic importance. The process for developing the White Paper commenced before the Global Financial Crisis, and I am proud that the important policy work is going strong. I want to thank all of those who contributed to the development of the White Paper through submissions or direct engagement with my Department.

As the policy initiatives in the White Paper are being rolled out, safety and security remain the number one priority for the Government. The 100 million passengers that fly through our skies 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.

Budget announcements on aviation safety and security

In the 2010-2011 Budget, the Rudd Government announced funding of $89.9 million for the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

This funding will mean the nation’s independent aviation safety watchdog can recruit 97 additional safety specialists, safety analysts and airworthiness inspectors and other staff. This funding will allow CASA to expand its surveillance activities and fulfil its increasingly complex regulatory responsibilities.

In February, the Government announced a $200 million aviation security package which will ensure better screening, improved policing at major airports and stronger security requirements at regional airports. These initiatives will preserve public confidence in the safety and reliability of air travel.

Investing in aviation infrastructure

The Government is also supporting vital investments in Australia’s aviation infrastructure. Airservices’ is investing $800 million in over 80 projects, and its ongoing investment in air traffic infrastructure and rescue and fire fighting services will bolster our great safety record.

I had great pleasure a fortnight ago to officially commission Airservices new $6 million fire station at Sunshine Coast Airport. This project is part of a $122 million to program to modernise aviation fire and rescue facilities at the nation’s busiest airports.

Creating a national air traffic management system

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. It’s not sexy, it won’t get headlines, but it is critically important. It is also common sense.

By purchasing and developing compatible equipment and technology together, we will deliver safer and better planned air traffic control over the nation’s skies.

I would like to thank both Greg Russell and Mark Binskin, the Chief of Air Force, for their leadership and hard work on this important project.

Terminal Navigation Pricing Review

Airservices is also progressing another important White Paper initiative – the Terminal Navigation Pricing Review. We need to ensure we have in place a pricing framework that enhances air traffic services and safety around Australia, including at major regional airports.

Regional access to Sydney Airport

Also important for regional communities is their access to the broader domestic and international airline network. Sydney Airport is an essential transport hub for regional communities.

I am pleased to announce that the Government has issued a new Declaration and Direction under the Trade Practices Act to ensure access and reasonable pricing for regional airlines at Sydney Airport.

Aircraft Noise Ombudsman

The establishment of an independent Aircraft Noise Ombudsman within Airservices demonstrates the importance this Government places on improving the relationship between the industry, airports and their surrounding communities.

Airservices Board

I’d like to take this opportunity recognise the work and dedication of the Airservices Board in maintaining an organisation which is widely respected for its safety credentials.

I have recently appointed Ms Jude Munro to the Board of Airservices and reappointed Mr David Forsyth as Chair of the Board, as well as Mr Henk Meertens as a member of the Board. I would also like to thank Ms Alice Williams for her contributions as a Board member and wish her well in her future endeavours.

I look forward to continuing to work with the Airservices Board to deliver safe and efficient airspace management.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank Richard Dudley for the energy, creativity and professionalism he brought to his 14 years at Airservices.

I wish you well for the future.

Thank you, and I hope you enjoy the conference.

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