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Tuesday, 10 December 2002
Page: 7573

Senator COONAN (Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer) (4:27 PM) —I table a revised explanatory memorandum relating to the bill and move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows

The Aviation Legislation Amendment Bill 2002 will amend several aviation-related Acts within the Transport and Regional Services portfolio. These amendments are contained within three schedules to the Bill.

Schedule 1 of the Bill streamlines International Air Services Commission processes through amendments to the International Air Services Commission Act 1992.

In 1992 the International Air Services Commission was established to act as an independent body for allocating capacity available under Australia's air services agreements to Australian airlines.

The Government's success in negotiating significantly increased capacity has created opportunities for the Australian community, particularly regional Australia. The changes have also increased opportunities for Australian airlines, provided that they can respond more quickly to changes in what is an increasingly global market.

These opportunities are available for new carriers as they arise to take the place of Ansett International.

Therefore the Bill simplifies the process of allocating capacity to ensure that Australian airlines are not unduly delayed by Commission procedures from putting Australian capacity into the market to compete with foreign airlines.

The Government will retain the Commission's role of assessing the viability of airlines applying for capacity to operate international air services. This is particularly important as new airlines press to take advantage of these opportunities. It is reasonable to seek evidence from applicants that they are capable of using the resources that are allocated to them and this Act provides that Commissioners be selected for specific skills that are directly relevant to this assessment.

Further, there is an obligation for a Government each time it licenses a services provider. The Government needs to be satisfied that the licensee can actually provide the services it is licensed to perform.

The next major component of the Bill, Schedule 2, initiates a statutory framework for handling aviation security information and reforms the regulation of the carriage of munitions and implements of war on civil aircraft.

Aviation security arrangements seek to protect major commercial airline passengers against acts of unlawful interference—such as aircraft hijack or aircraft sabotage. Aviation security allows Australians to place confidence in the aviation industry by reducing the threat to members of the travelling public and the business community.

Schedule 2 will introduce a statutory framework for the handling of aviation security information. This framework is designed to encourage industry to provide regular and accurate information to Government on how it complies with the aviation security standards. The receipt of this additional, targeted security information will assist the Government to deal with and resolve compliance issues within the industry in a timely and effective manner.

Schedule 2 also reforms the regulation of the carriage of munitions and implements of war on board civil aircraft. The amendments will eliminate duplication and bureaucratic approval processes, whilst maintaining standards. Regular carriage of munitions will be able to be authorised through regulations, to increase accountability and transparency. The Minister will also retain the ability to make instruments to authorise the carriage of munitions.

Consequential to the repeal of the Federal Airports Corporation Act 1986, Schedule 2 repeals references related to the Federal Airports Corporation Act 1986.

In summary, the new security standards to be initiated under Schedule 2 to the Bill will be focussed on the security outcomes to be achieved by Australia's civil aviation industry and will support an effective industry compliance program.

The Government Amendment to Schedule 2 in the House of Representatives removed the repeal of the current aviation security arrangements. It was originally intended that the aviation security arrangements be consolidated into the regulations. Following the events of September 11, 2001 a number of reviews of aviation security have been initiated and it has been decided that a full revision of the regulatory arrangements be undertaken after the completion of the reviews.

Schedule 3 proposes that the Federal Airports Corporation Act 1986 be repealed and that any remaining contracts, assets and liabilities of the Corporation be transferred to the Commonwealth.

The Federal Airports Corporation (FAC) ceased trading in September 1998. All airports previously owned and operated by the FAC are now operated either by private lessee companies or Commonwealth-owned corporations. There is therefore no need to retain the legislation on the statute books.

With some minor exceptions, the transfer of assets and liabilities to the Commonwealth was completed in September 1999. It was however not possible to transfer residual liabilities in relation to Head Office employees who did not transfer to the privately-leased airports. The proposed amendments will transfer any residual contracts, assets and liabilities in relation to these employees to the Commonwealth.

Debate (on motion by Senator Buckland) adjourned.