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Thursday, 8 March 2001
Page: 22816


Senator HEFFERNAN (Parliamentary Secretary to Cabinet) (12:37 PM) —The objective of this amendment is to correct an administrative oversight which resulted in Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport not being declared as a leviable airport after 30 June 1996. The Aircraft Noise Levy Collection Act 1995 and the Aircraft Noise Levy Act 1995 put in place a framework for the imposition of a levy to recover the cost of noise amelioration programs at certain leviable airports. In 1995, Sydney airport was declared as leviable for the nine months up to 30 June 1996; however, there was no subsequent declaration. Notwithstanding the failure to declare Sydney as a leviable airport, the levy has been determined and collected in accordance with the intent of the legislation—in particular, the requirement of the collection act that the leviable liability for an airport at any given time does not exceed the Commonwealth expenditure on the noise amelioration program.

In the case of Sydney airport, the levy raises around $38 million to $40 million per annum and, as at 31 January 2001, had raised a total of $197 million. Meanwhile, expenditure on the program to 31 January 2001 was $347 million. To date, over 3,300 homes and over 80 public buildings in the vicinity of Sydney airport have been noise insulated. Depending on future revenue and recovery, it can expected that the levy will need to continue for another five years. This bill corrects the oversight by amending the collection act to deem a declaration to have been in place for the period 1 July 1996 to 21 February 2001. In order to validate prospective collections, the Assistant Treasurer on 21 February gazetted Sydney as a leviable airport up to and including 30 June 2006. The amendment imposes no additional regulatory or financial burden upon aircraft operators; rather, it merely seeks to regularise past dealings between the Commonwealth and the operators.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.