Dec 2, 2008

Plans to secure Australia’s aviation future

Plans to secure Australia’s aviation future

MEDIA RELEASE

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport,

Regional Development and Local Government

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

December 2 2008

New measures to preserve public confidence in the safety and reliability of air travel are at the heart of the Aviation Green Paper which I’ve released today.

The Green Paper is the next step towards a comprehensive, long term plan for an industry which underpins economic growth, supports more than half a million jobs and contributes $6.4 billion to the national economy.

While Australia has an enviable safety record, we cannot take past success for granted. The Government will take decisive action to strengthen the nation’s safety agencies and their oversight of the airlines, including:

  • Establishing a small, independent Board for the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), Australia’s aviation safety regulator;
  • Equipping CASA with the necessary legal powers to deal decisively with any safety breaches and expanding its surveillance program;
  • Enhancing the independence of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) by establishing it as a statutory agency with the power to investigate accidents.

The Green Paper also proposes measures which seek to balance the need for additional aviation infrastructure with the effects that expansion can have on the environment and the communities living close to airports.

Up until now, airport planning has not been handled properly. The Green Paper proposes measures which would improve the coordination and oversight of airport development and operations, including:

  • Making sure development on airport land is not approved in isolation from state and local planning laws, and is better integrated with the surrounding transport and community infrastructure;
  • Giving the Federal Minister the power to establish expert Airport Planning Advisory Panels to independently assess Master Plans and Major Development Plans;
  • Requiring major airports to establish and fund permanent consultation groups so there’s genuine engagement with the local community on planning and key operational issues;
  • Insisting airport operators publicly disclose more information as part of the five year review of their master plans, including significant details about their development proposals;
  • Prohibiting the construction of certain non-aeronautical facilities on airport land such as residential homes, aged care facilities, schools and hospitals.

Proposals to cut aircraft noise; reduce carbon emissions; improve passenger screening; support regional and general aviation; address the shortages of pilots, engineers and air traffic controllers; open new markets to Australian airlines; and better protect consumers are also set out in the Green Paper.

Almost a century after the birth of the Australian aviation industry, the Rudd Labor Government is bringing together all aspects of aviation policy into a single statement.

More than ever, aviation is essential to Australia’s economic prosperity, linking the communities of our vast continent and providing a gateway to the global economy.

Last financial year, a record 23.3 million international and 49.3 million domestic passengers passed through the nation’s airports.

If we are to continue to benefit from the economic and social advantages of aviation we need to plan ahead. The previous short term, ad-hoc approach is no longer tenable if Australia is to remain internationally competitive.

The measures in the Green Paper are in part based on the more than 290 submissions received in response to an Issues Paper which I released back in April.

There will now be a further period of public consultation prior to the preparation and release of a detailed National Aviation Policy Statement (White Paper) in the second half of next year. This second round of consultation will close on 27 February 2009.

The full Green Paper is available at: www.infrastructure.gov.au/aviation/nap.