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Wednesday, 16 June 2010
Page: 5525

Mr ALBANESE (Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government) (1:56 PM) —The Excise Tariff Amendment (Aviation Fuel) Bill 2010 and the Customs Tariff Amendment (Aviation Fuel) Bill 2010 will see the excise in customs duty on aviation gasoline and kerosene rise from 2.854c per litre to 3.556c per litre. It is expected that this will result in an additional $89.9 million of revenue over the next four years. I want to make this clear to the Leader of the Opposition: all of these funds will go to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Australia’s aviation safety regulator.

If there has ever been legislation before this House that should not be a source of political partisanship, it is this legislation. Every single cent of money derived as a result of this legislation will go to funding important safety surveillance, safety analysis and safety inspections. For those opposite to come in here and seek to make this a partisan issue is, frankly, a disgrace. It is one thing to be an opposition that is committed to opposition for opposition’s sake; it is one thing to oppose regulations that would provide restrictions on entries into cockpits of aircraft; but it is another thing to come in here and oppose legislation aimed at increasing the number of aviation safety inspectors. It is an absolute disgrace.

The aviation industry is changing. We are seeing a considerable increase in general aviation. We are seeing a considerable increase in the use of helicopters. We are seeing a considerable increase in the use of private aircraft. Therefore, CASA and the safety regime must change with it. We must put our safety inspectors—CASA, our agency—on a sustainable financial footing. It is what the industry has asked for and it is what the travelling public deserve. We have seen in very recent times that it is not just the travelling public who can be affected by these issues.

The fact that this has been made into a partisan issue by those opposite is, frankly, a disgrace. They have question time to think about where they stand on these issues, because there has been proper consultation on these bills. There has been appropriate consultation over two years—over two years—on this legislation, but those opposite come in here and move an amendment and declare their opposition to the bill. The comments by the member for Farrer, undermining the drug and alcohol testing regime that CASA has in place for pilots, are just extraordinary, simply extraordinary. It shows how out of touch this opposition is. They have a couple of hours to think about where they stand on these issues; but, if they vote against this legislation, they will be held to account.

The SPEAKER —Order! It being 2 pm, the debate is interrupted in accordance with standing order 97. The debate may be resumed at a later hour and the member will have leave to continue speaking when the debate is resumed.