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Tuesday, 14 June 2011
Page: 6026

Mr TRUSS (Wide BayLeader of The Nationals) (21:53): There is a large number of issues I would like to raise, but obviously time is short, so let me go to them quickly. Firstly, in the 2007 election campaign one of the major issues in construction was the Ipswich motorway. The coalition had promised a major second route, which would undoubtedly have been the best result, but the government chose a cheaper option with the promise that it would be delivered faster. The Cooroy to Curra stretch of the Bruce Highway has been described repeatedly as the worst section of the Bruce Highway in Queensland. Indeed, it was recently identified again, on 1 June 2011, when the RACQ said:

Not surprisingly, the Cooroy to Gin Gin stretch has once again cemented its spot as the state's worst stretch of the highway.

There is currently a project underway on that Cooroy to Curra stretch. However, in spite of the minister's repeated acknowledgement that this was the worst accident stretch in the highway, incredibly, at page 272 of Budget Paper No. 2, the government announces it is actually going to take $325.4 million from the Cooroy to Curra project and from the upgrade to the Ipswich Motorway. My question is: how much will be taken from the Ipswich Motorway and how much of that amount is coming from the Cooroy to Curra road?

I would like to turn to a couple of aviation issues. At the Senate estimates for the previous budget, the government said that it would be developing a new en route navigation rebate scheme for regional aviation. At this year's Senate estimates, it acknowledged what was apparent from the budget, that the support for regional aviation services was to be abolished entirely. In spite of the commitments made as part of the white paper process, this support is to be eliminated entirely from the following financial year. All that is to be left is support for aerial ambulance services et cetera.

Rex Aviation have recently released a list of seven routes which they may have to terminate as a result of the loss of the financial support through the en route navigation rebate scheme. I ask the minister: what support does he propose to provide to enable services to continue to places like Taree, Grafton, Moruya, Bathurst, Griffith, King Island and Merimbula, if Rex, the only operator, withdraws those services?

I would also like to refer briefly to the new security-screening measures for regional airports and raise an issue that I raised with the minister during this debate at the last budget and on which I have, to this day, never received a satisfactory response. The proposed new security measures will impose jet style security on many propeller driven aircraft, particularly Q400s. I referred him to the airports at Barcaldine and Blackall, which have only 50 to 100 passengers a week, and pointed out that the cost of these new security measures would add around $1,000 a ticket to the price of travelling to those communities. I ask the minister: what arrangements are being put in place to enable the Q400 services to commence to Barcaldine and Blackall and what cost will be imposed upon the users of those services?

The next issue I would like to raise is on behalf of the member for Hinkler, who would like to have made a contribution tonight but was prevented from being here this week. Bundaberg airport has recently spent $40 million upgrading its airport services to receive large jets. From 1 June, CASA has decided that the minimum runway widths are to be increased from 30 metres to 45 metres. This airport has not yet received its first jet services and yet it will now have to spend between $7 million and $10 million to widen that runway. Hervey Bay Airport, which does have regular jet services, will have to spend about $6 million to widen the runway. Will the government provide any financial support to these regional councils to fund the widening of their runways so that they are able to receive jet services? Or is a different rule to be applied to airports in northern New South Wales than is to be applied to the rest of Australia?