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Tuesday, 13 May 2003
Page: 14152

Mr Martin Ferguson asked the Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 10 December 2002:

(1) Further to the advice given in Senate Estimates on 20 November 2002 that Air Marshal Houston and Airservices Australia have agreed to work towards the provision by Airservices Australia of air traffic control services at Townsville and Darwin airports, when will the consultation phase (a) commence and (b) conclude and which agencies and organisations will be included in that consultation.

(2) Will the proposal involve Airservices Australia providing defence and civilian air traffic control services.

(3) Does the decision relate to previous reports of a Defence shortage of air traffic controllers; if so, can the Minister assure the public that sufficient Defence resources exist to safely cover the functions until the proposed changes occur; in not, will interim measures be put in place.

(4) Is the decision to transfer functions from Defence to Airservices Australia a ministerial or agency level decision.

(5) Will any other airport or aviation functions be involved in a transfer of functions at (a) Darwin, (b) Townsville or (c) other airports; if so, which services and locations.

Mrs Vale (Minister for Veterans' Affairs and Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) The decision on which organisation will provide air traffic control services at Darwin and Townsville is still to be made. Government is reviewing the feasibility of integrating military and civil air traffic management systems to reduce duplication and costs.

(a) January 2003.

(b) July 2003. Department of Transport and Regional Services, Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Regional Airspace Users Advisory Committee, local aviation groups.

(2) Possibly. The review is to determine whether integration would cut duplication and costs.

(3) Sufficient Defence resources exist to safely cover existing functions.

(4) The decision to conduct the study was made by the Minister for Defence and the Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon John Anderson MP, taking into account advice from their respective departments.

(5) The review will focus on integrating civil and military air traffic management systems at Darwin and Townsville. This focus could broaden in time.