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Government dithers while isolated communities wait for urgent air deliveries.



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Government Dithers While Isolated Communities Wait For Urgent Air Deliveries

 

Northern Territory Labor Senator Trish Crossin says some isolated Territory communities could be missing out on weekly deliveries of essential supplies because of Department of Transport and Regional Services inactivity.

 

A Transport and Regional Services official admitted at a Senate estimates hearing this week the Department had underspent the allocated funds for the Remote Air Subsidy Scheme (RASS) by $700,000.

 

Senator Crossin said it was disgraceful the Department had underspent their allocated funding by almost 25% when some communities could be unable to get regular air deliveries, without paying for expensive charter flights.

 

The Remote Air Subsidy Scheme (RASS) aims to ensure regular deliveries of essential supplies and mail for isolated communities, such as medical supplies, fresh food, educational materials, mail and vehicle and communication parts.

 

The scheme was reviewed and funding doubled to $2.5 million in last year’s Federal budget to increase the number of communities on the scheme.

 

“We were told at a Senate estimates hearing last year that up to 25 new communities in regional Australia could be admitted to the scheme,” Senator Crossin said.

 

“Last month Federal Regional Services Minister Senator Ian McDonald boasted in Katherine that the Government had doubled its funding to remote air services.

 

“However this week we were advised that not one new community had been admitted to RASS since the funding had been doubled,” Senator Crossin said.

 

“This time last year we were told that RASS eligibility guidelines would be in place and applications called for by early 2001.

 

“We’re now almost halfway through the year. Why are some isolated Territory communities still waiting? Senator Crossin asked.

 

Ends.

 

Thursday, 31 May 2001