Australian Airports Association — National Airport Industry Awards 2016
23 November 2016
Great Hall, Parliament House
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am very pleased to be here tonight, and I also welcome my Parliamentary colleagues in the room.
There is much to celebrate tonight as we look back on the amazing progress our airports have made since privatisation 20 years ago.
We all understand our first impressions are important for our overseas visitors when they arrive at our airports.
Today—airports are luxurious, state of the art buildings making the experience more enjoyable—and sometimes making you forget that you are actually at an airport.
But while we can all acknowledge the importance and success of our capital city airports and the role they play in our society, tonight I'd like to use this opportunity to shine the spotlight on our regional airports.
I thank the triple-A for its recent report on Regional Airport Infrastructure, highlighting the challenges that these essential transport hubs are facing.
And as a regional MP myself, I am acutely aware of the importance of aviation to regional, rural and remote communities.
Providing vital access to health care and other professional services for many, aviation services have also been a key enabler of growth in mining, agriculture and tourism within many of our regions.
Airports range in size from smaller, remote aerodromes owned by local authorities such as Coober Pedy–through to new, larger, airports owned by local businesses such as Brisbane West Wellcamp.
I have visited Toowoomba quite a lot over recent years, including just a few weeks ago, and it has been amazing to see the transformation from paddocks to a stylish airport.
I'd like to congratulate the Wagner family, again, for what they have achieved building the airport and creating opportunities for the Toowoomba region.
Opportunities not only for the Airport, but also future export success for Australian businesses, resulting from the Coalition's trifecta of trade deals in Asia.
And I understand that the new weekly freight service between Toowoomba and Hong Kong started this week.
I have also had the pleasure recently opening the Canberra International Terminal Facility—in time for the new Singapore Airlines flights.
The Canberra Airport team are living proof that grand vision and hard work can in fact lead to success.
Regional airport funding
Not all regional and remote airports can be a Wellcamp or Canberra, no matter how entrepreneurial their managers.
At the local level, it can be a challenge to adequately fund the ongoing maintenance and development of regional or remote airports.
Other levels of government are generally responsible for these airports within our federal system.
However, we do provide funding for access and safety upgrades through the Regional Aviation Access Programme.
This year we also announced funding to upgrade airports in Merimbula, Moruya, Port Macquarie, Tamworth, and Busselton-Margaret River.
And in Round Three of the National Stronger Regions Fund–funds have recently been committed to the Derby, Parkes and Dubbo airports.
I am committed to continue to fund our regional and remote aerodromes and will work with the triple-A on how best our government can deliver the appropriate support to this vital infrastructure.
Living with our communities
Airport operators, whether large or small, need to develop a strong, open, beneficial relationship within their communities, to manage issues such as potential noise impacts. In this vein, a great deal of work has gone into promoting the National Airports Safeguarding Framework, incorporating guidelines on noise, wildlife strike, wind turbine risk.
Land use planning decisions, at the local and state level, are increasingly referencing the Framework Guidelines; and
The triple-A has played a significant role in raising the profile of airport safeguarding–and I thank you for that.
Western Sydney Airport
Lastly, I'd like to make a general point about Infrastructure planning and development.
It takes time to do it well.
We have a $50 billion infrastructure investment with a long term plan.
We need to be building the infrastructure that our kids and grandkids will thank us for.
Our current, methodical planning for a Western Sydney Airport illustrates this well.
And it is good to have my shadow counterpart here–Mr Albanese who has supported this work and acknowledged the jobs it will create.
We have undertaken detailed planning and have made significant progress towards operations commencing in the mid-2020s.
Construction of supporting infrastructure is underway, the EIS has been finalised, and the Airport Plan is expected to be determined soon—providing approval authorisation for the construction and operation of the Stage 1 development.
It may be some time before the ‘rubber hits the runway’, but this is an example of planning for the future.
We are prepared to look beyond the electoral cycle to do the right thing for the aviation industry, and the communities we both serve.
I would like to wish you well with the remainder of this wonderful event.
Thank you–and have a great evening.