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Thursday, 11 October 2012
Page: 8097


(Question No. 2109)

Senator Johnston asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 23 August 2012,

Can the Minister provide a relevant response as to why the Middle East Area of Operations contract has been extended by a further 12 months, thereby requiring personnel to use a sub standard aircraft, and what provision is there to cancel this contract at short notice.

Senator Bob Carr: The Minister for Defence has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:

The Middle East Area of Operations (MEAO) Air Sustainment Contract is for an initial two-year term which expires 21 November 2012. There are two single year options to extend the contract and Defence has recently determined to exercise the first of these options. The decision to extend the contract took into account the continuing need for the service, contractor performance and the considerable cost savings to Defence.

The aircraft has not been deemed to be substandard and the safety of our ADF personnel travelling by air remains the paramount consideration. Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) is the appropriate regulatory authority responsible for ensuring that foreign aircraft operators holding Foreign Aircraft Operator’s Certificates conform to Australian civil aviation operating standards, including safety. The aircraft operator, HIFLY, is required to meet European Aviation Safety Authority operating standards and CASA has approved HIFLY to operate specified aircraft utilised under the contract. The contractor, Adagold Aviation, and the aircraft operator, HIFLY, continue to safely and successfully operate the MEAO Air Sustainment Aircraft service. Regular and continuing customer surveys across a range of key criteria demonstrate consistently high Customer Service Satisfaction levels approaching 99%.

Defence has contracted for the provision of a minimum number of flights up to November 2013. If Defence determines a need to cancel the contract unilaterally, at short notice, there will be financial implications. Based on the continued requirement, satisfactory service delivery and value for money, there is no intention to cancel the contract.