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Tanner has it wrong again.

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Minister for Transport and Regional Development

Hon Mark Vaile MP




Claims by Labor's Transport Spokesman, Lindsay Tanner, that the Howard/Fischer Government has done nothing for regional Australia show how hopele ssly far behind the action Labor really is.


Only the other day I announced details of cost changes at Sydney Airport which reflect a fairer allocation of charges amongst airport users especially the regional airlines.


Under the final proposal, the minimum charge at Sydney Airport has been substantially cut from the $140 originally proposed to $100. The original pricing proposal also included the $250 peak period charge, but this has been abolished.


"The peak period surcharge, which Labor kept had a disproportionate impact on regional airlines in particular, and I was very pleased to be able to abolish this charge."


Sydney Airport will also apply a generous system of rebates to ease the impact of the new arrangements on smaller operators.


"Not only has this Government guaranteed access for regional airlines through a legislated 'slots system' - an undertaking to the bush Labor was never prepared to make -but I have also ensured that these operators will not be priced out of Sydney Airport."


The restructure delivers significant benefits for regional NSW, and has been welcomed by successful regional operators.


The restructure of charges has also meant a significant reduction in the rate of general landing charges from $5.72 per tonne to $2.92 per tonne. This decrease will translate into significant cost savings to the major domestic airlines. Australia's domestic operators are no longer subsidising international operations at Sydney Airport.


The same day I announced this restructure in charges at Sydney Airport, this Government abolished the unfair Avgas tax.


"Unlike Kim, Beazley's Labor, this Government is about abolishing unfair taxes. In their dying days, Labor tried to increase this unfair tax. We stopped them then, and now we have abolished the tax."


"The people who benefit most are the users in the bush - the general aviation operator in rural and remote Australia who have been paying the tax on avgas but rarely if ever use any of the services provided by Airservices Australia."


The abolition of the avgas tax will mean savings of up to $ 10.000 a year per aircraft for some operators.


Location specific pricing has exposed the hidden true costs of air traffic control towers at the larger regional and capital city airports. We recognise this, and we have provided through the Budget a two-year $13 million transitional subsidy (with $11 million in the first year) to smooth the impact of the new pricing structure.


A surcharge has been applied at some of the major airports to provide additional industry-funded subsidies for the regional towers.


Instead of putting out press releases about charges at capital city airports. Mr Tanner should have a look at his own party's track record.


"The most Labor had expected for the sale of 22 airports was $2 billion, we sold long term leases for 17 airports for more than twice what Labor even dreamed of. This money can now be used to help pay off Labor's mammoth debt."


Under this Government's pricing regime for the major airports, airport operators must reduce prices in real terms for 5 years on a specific set of services provided to airline using the airports.


In relation to the Counter Terrorist First Response Function (ie the security charge) this is a mandated security requirement.


Accordingly, while aeronautical charges must fall over the 5 years, security charges are outside the price cap. This is because this is a cost which is outside the airport operator's control.


Yet again, Lindsay Tanner couldn't have got it more wrong.


Media Inquiries:  Peter Cassuben 02 6277 7680