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Airports Amendment Bill 2010

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Amendments to be Moved on Behalf of the Government





(circulated by the authority of the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport

the Honourable Anthony Albanese, MP)




The Airports Amendment Bill 2010 (the Bill) amends the Airports Act 1996 to give effect to the legislative reforms announced by the Australian Government in the National Aviation Policy White Paper Flight Path to the Future (White Paper).  The White Paper, which was released on 16 December 2009, outlines the policy settings on aviation and airports and the long-term approach the Government has taken, or will take, to achieve these policy objectives.

The Bill was passed in the House of Representatives on 25 October 2010.  It was introduced in the Senate on 26 October 2010 and referred to the Senate Rural Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee (the Committee) for an inquiry.  The Committee received 34 submissions and heard evidence from several industry and organisational representatives including officers of the Department of Infrastructure and Transport.

These Government amendments are in response to stakeholder comments on the Bill.  The amendments would clarify the Government’s policy intentions, correct drafting errors and  improve drafting of certain provisions to avoid unintended consequences.

The Government amendments proposed to the Bill are to:

·          replace the term “incompatible development” with the term “sensitive development’’;

·          clarify that a Major Development Plan (MDP) is required only for runway alterations that significantly change flight paths or patterns or levels of aircraft noise.  They will also ensure maintenance works on runways (for example, patch repair of runways, crack sealing, runway resurfacing, upgrade of navigation aids and the like) or changes such as lighting or markings on runways, will not require an MDP even if short-term changes are made to flight patterns while the work proceeds; 

·          clarify the definition of ‘sensitive development’ to improve the drafting of the original provision in the Bill;

·          clarify the definition of “educational institution” in new section 71A in the Bill to ensure that facilities for staff training by organisations operating at the airport would not require an MDP;

·          make the exemption provision in new subsection 89(5) workable by removing the phrase “increase the operating capacity of the airport” in paragraph 89(5)(b);

·          correct a drafting error in Note 2 under section 89A; and

·          correct an inadvertent mistake in relation to paragraph 71(3)(d) by retaining the phrase “in accordance with regulations, if any made for the purpose of this paragraph”.



The measures proposed in this Bill are budget neutral.

Detailed explanation of amendments

Item 1 - Paragraph 71(3(d)

1.       In relation to paragraph 71(3)(d) in the Bill, the phrase “in accordance with regulations, if any, made for the purpose of this paragraph” is being retained in the existing provision of the Act.  This will make paragraph 71(3)(d) consistent with existing paragraph 71(2)(d).

Items 2- 5, 11-13, 16-20, 22-33 - sensitive developments

2.       The term ‘incompatible development’ in the Bill is replaced with the term ‘sensitive development’.  This amendment aims to counteract concerns that the use of the term ‘incompatible’ implied this type of development would never be approved or allowed at the airport site.

Item 6 - sensitive developments

3.       New section 71A in the Bill provides for a definition of ‘sensitive development’.  This amendment would clarify that a ‘sensitive development’ is a “development of, or a redevelopment that increases the capacity of, any” of the items enumerated in new section 71A. 


4.       The amendment is technical in nature to correct a flaw in the drafting of the original provision in the Bill.  The phrase “that increases the capacity” is intended to qualify only the term ‘redevelopment’. 


5.       The phrase ‘increase in capacity’ referred to in this provision refers to the potential for increase in the number of residents in a residential dwelling, the number of patients in a community care facility, the number of students in a pre-school,  primary, secondary, tertiary or other educational institution, or the number of patients in a hospital.


6.       A redevelopment of a facility of a type listed in new section 71A that does not increase the potential number of residents, students or patients would not be captured by the provision.


7.       Any new development of a type enumerated in new subsection 71A(2) that is constructed is captured by the provision.

Item 7-10 - excluded facilities from the scope of ‘sensitive developments’

8.       New subsection 71A(2A) provides for a list of facilities that are excluded from the meaning of the term ‘sensitive development’.  The items listed in new subsection 71A(2A) are taken from subsection 71A(2) of the Bill except for paragraph (d) which is an additional item to clarify the policy intention. 


9.       It is the policy intention that facilities for the purpose of providing in-house training to staff employed by organisations conducting operations at the airport are excluded from the meaning of ‘sensitive development’.  This is clarified in the Explanatory Memorandum to the Bill.  However, for the avoidance of doubt, an express provision to this effect is now included in the Bill.

Item 14 - new paragraph 89(1)(ba)

10.   The Bill inserts new paragraph 89(1)(ba) identifying runway alterations as major airport developments.  The amendment clarifies that only an alteration to a runway that significantly changes flight paths or the patterns or levels of aircraft noise would require an MDP.  Alterations to minor elements such as lighting or marking on the runway would not require an MDP even if they affect, to some extent, flight paths or noise patterns during those works.


11.   It also puts beyond doubt that maintenance works on the runway like resurfacing to the original specifications, crack sealing, patching, and other repairs on the runway would not require an MDP. 


12.   It is the Government’s intention that while an MDP may not be required in cases of minor runway alterations or runway maintenance works, it would still be appropriate for the relevant airport-operator company to take steps to inform the community of such works and their short-term impact.  This would be consistent with the White Paper theme of encouraging improved consultation by airports with local communities and other stakeholders.

Item 15 - new subsection 89(5)

13.   Under new subsection 89(5), the airport-lessee company may apply to the Minister to exempt developments specified in paragraph (1)(c), (d), (f) or (g) from the MDP process.  The Minister may grant such exemption after considering certain criteria listed in paragraph 89(5)(b). 


14.   The first criterion (“increase the operating capacity of the airport”) is being deleted.  This would ensure that subsection 89(5) could be practically implemented.

Item 21 - Note 2 in new section 89A

15.   Note 2 is being amended to correct a drafting error.