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Tuesday, 26 November 1974
Page: 2800

Senator CAVANAGH (South AustraliaMinister for Aboriginal Affairs) - I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

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

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Devitt)- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-

Frequently since attaining office this Government has drawn attention to the vast gulf between the cost of providing, operating and maintaining our aviation infrastructure, and the revenue received for the use of the various facilities. In 1973-74 the cost to provide, operate and maintain Australia's airport and airways systems amounted to $ 140m. Only $75m or 54 per cent of that amount was recovered. The Australian taxpayer, rather than the users, was called upon to meet the $65m deficit. This Government intends to substantially increase the rate of recovery from the users and, indeed, already has embarked on such a program.

There is absolutely no justification for continuing the heavy subsidy support ofthe general aviation industry which makes heavy demands on aviation facilities and on the funds to provide and maintain them. Special aerodromes for general aviation aircraft, Archerfield, Bankstown, Jandakot, Essendon, Moorabbin and Parafield have been provided in all capital cities- by the taxpayer. Last year, these aerodromes alone cost $10m to operate and maintain. In addition, facilities have been provided at other aerodromes largely for general aviation aircraft, things like light aircraft aprons and taxiways, traffic control and flight service units, communications and fire units. Yet our total recovery from the general aviation industry including air navigation charges, commercial revenue and aviation fuel tax amounted to less than $4.5 m, a recovery rate of only 44 per cent. The Government sees no reason why all sectors of the aviation industry should not pay their way at least to the extent of the 80 per cent recovery target set by the Government.

In 1960 the then Liberal-Country Party Government adopted a long term policy for ultimate full recovery of costs of air transport facilities provided by Government. However, no target date for acheiving the objective was set. This Government decided last year to set a target date and to accelerate the cost recovery program, lt was then announced that an 80 per cent recovery rate was to be attained by 1978. In the first year following the announcement the recovery rate was increased from 49 per cent to 54 per cent. This was achieved, with the co-operation of industry, by both increasing revenue within the statutory limitations where they apply and by a more efficient allocation of resources through a vigorous pruning of costs wherever possible. By continuing to pursue this policy the Government will achieve a balanced, co-ordinated transport system. Resources will be properly allocated on the demonstrated needs of the community and a system will be developed in which each transport mode performs the role best suited to it. In this way the maximum benefit will accrue to the nation. While this policy caters for 80 per cent recovery of the costs attributable to the provision, operation and maintenance of the airport and airways systems attention has also been focused on the cost to the Government of providing the many other services for which no charge is made. Therefore, consistent with the cost recovery policy and also with the broader policy that the user should pay, the Government has recently decided to introduce fees and charges for a wide variety of other services provided to the aviation industry by the Air Transport Group of the Department of Transport.

The Air Navigation Bill 1974 enables the Air Navigation Act to be amended to provide authority for fees and charges to be imposed through the Air Navigation Regulations. The actual charges have not yet been determined but will be tabled in the Parliament as amendments to the Regulations before implementation. It is intended that they be introduced during the 1 974-75 financial year and that full recovery of the cost of these services be attained within 3 years. The full commercial cost to the Department of providing the services is estimated at more than $6m for this financial year. The services for which fees and charges are to be imposed may be described generally as being for applications or examinations for the grant, issue, renewal or variation of licences, certificates, approvals, permits, registrations or exemptions under the regulations. As would be expected this general description embraces various types of differing services which are too extensive to fully describe. This country has sustained an enviable air safety record over a long period. Much effort and financial resources have been expended by the Department to achieve this. For instance, considerable effort has been directed to ensuring that proficiency is attained and maintained by both pilots and operators. It is now proposed to charge for services provided in the issue of flight crew and air service licences. Similarly, it is proposed to introduce charges for the many services provided in respect of airworthiness matters. These charges will include application fees for such services as the issue or variation of certificates of registration, the issue or renewal of certificates of airworthiness, the issue of certificates of type approval in respect of a type of aircraft or aircraft component.

Authorities intending to erect buildings on Government aerodromes are required to first obtain the Department's approval to ensure that siting considerations are met and that the proposed building meets both structural and architectural standards. It is proposed that applicants for such approvals be required to pay a fee in a similar manner to the building permit fee imposed by local councils. In the case of aerodromes owned and operated by local authorities, private individuals or business undertakings, a licence is issued by the Department before the aerodrome can be made available for public use. The issue of the licence is preceded by consultation concerning the standard of aerodrome and inspection of the site to determine that the Department's standards have been met in order to ensure that the aerodrome is suitable and safe for the proposed operations, lt is proposed to charge for this service. It is intended, of course, to charge for many other services provided by the Department, the specific services mentioned are illustrative only. It is further intended that the full commercial cost of providing these services will be recovered.

Another significant effect of this Bill is to change the definition of 'state aircraft' and to make several related changes. The purpose of these changes is to enable civil aircraft registered in Australia which are being flown by members of the Defence Forces in the course of their duties to continue to be subject to the Air Navigation Regulations.

In recent years privately owned civil aircraft registered in Australia under the Air Navigation Regulations have been hired on a number of occasions by the Army, Navy and Royal Australian Air Force for relatively short periods. These aircraft have been flown by members of the Defence Forces in the course of their duties for such purposes as flying training and surveys. In accordance with the Air Navigation Act 1920-1973 these aircraft are 'state aircraft' as defined and, except where the Act makes an express reference, are not subject to the Act. Difficulties have arisen, and would continue to arise, in such circumstances. Particular problems have involved maintenance, pilot licensing and investigation of accidents. For instance, the Defence Force has been expected to institute its own maintenance procedures for hired aircraft. Notwithstanding this, on the return of the aircraft to civil operations, its airworthiness could be in question due to the possible consequences of its time spent beyond the control of the Act and the Regulations.

Therefore, it is most desirable that the provisions of the Air Navigation Regulations should continue to apply to civil registered aircraft which are under the temporary control of the

Defence Force by virtue of a contract of hire or charter and are being flown by members of the Defence Force in the course of their duties. On the other hand, honourable senators may be assured, if an aircraft is hired or chartered by a part of the Defence Force for a lengthy period, or if for any special reason it is desirable that it should not be subject to the provisions of the Air Navigation Regulations while under hire or charter, the registration of the aircraft can be cancelled on the application of the owner. The aircraft will then be under the complete control of the Service department concerned. The opportunity has also been taken to substitute, in the Air Navigation Act and the Airports (Surface Traffic) Act, references to 'Director-General of Department of Civil Aviation' by 'Secretary to the Department of Transport', and 'the Commonwealth' by 'Australia'. I commend the Bill.

Debate (on motion by Senator Cotton) adjourned.

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