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Tuesday, 11 February 1986
Page: 140

(Question No. 742)

Senator Reynolds asked the Minister representing the Minister for Aviation, upon notice, on 2 December 1985:

(1) Can the Minister for Aviation advise why there has been a cut-back in funds for locally owned airport maintenance.

(2) What impact will this decision have on air safety, particularly in isolated areas where small local authorities have limited funds to allocate to airport maintenance.

(3) What standards are set by the Department of Aviation to ensure that local airports meet required safety levels.

(4) How can these safety levels be guaranteed if local authorities cannot meet additional costs associated with airport maintenance.

Senator Gietzelt —The Minister for Aviation has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) No actual reduction for routine maintenance has occurred. However, in October last year, aerodrome owners were advised that the level of funding for this financial year was to be reduced. Since then, the Minister for Aviation has directed his Department to make additional funds available to enable all properly substantiated claims for routine aerodrome maintenance to be met. Urgent specific maintenance projects will also be funded.

(2) The level of funds has been restored and there will be no impact on air safety. Even if it had been necessary to restrict maintenance grants, safety would not have been compromised although a reduction in air services may have been necessary.

(3) The Department of Aviation adopts airport standards generally in accordance with recommendations of the International Civil Aviation Organisation. All licensed aerodromes are subject to regular inspection by Department of Aviation officers who ensure that these physical standards continue to be met.

(4) Local authorities will now receive sufficient maintenance subsidies in this financial year to keep their aerodromes at the required standard. Safety levels at licensed Australian aerodromes are always closely monitored. If a local authority were unable to generate sufficient finance to maintain an aerodrome at a specific standard, then action may be necessary to de-license it or to maintain it at a standard only suitable for smaller aircraft by such measures as reduction in runway strip dimensions.