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Meeting in Hamilton to save Essendon Airport.

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Federal Member for Wannon

Hamilton Office 190 Gray St, HAMILTON VIC 3300 Warrnambool Office 73 Kepler St WARRNAMBOOL VIC 3280 Freecall 1300 131 692 E W

Federal Member for Wannon

21 October 2008


Federal Member for Wannon, David Hawker, is urging Western Victorians to attend an important meeting at the Hamilton Performing Arts Centre next month to save Essendon Airport from closure.

The meeting has been arranged in response to calls by Federal Labor MP Kelvin Thompson and State Labor Premier John Brumby to close Essendon Airport.

“For 86 years Essendon airport has been a vital link for rural Victorians to our capital city, catering for smaller regional air services like Western Victoria’s Sharp Airlines, and charter flights which connect rural businesses with their city counterparts,” Mr Hawker said.

“It is home to the life-saving air ambulance which provides rural families with access to Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital in emergencies, the Police Air Wing, flight training, and Elvis the fire-fighting helicopter is also based at Essendon.

“Last year alone 136 newborn babies from rural Victoria were transferred under emergency situations via Essendon airport to the newborn units in Melbourne’s hospitals.”

Mr Hawker aired his concerns for Essendon Airport last night in Federal Parliament, saying that Labor’s suggestion that all existing services be moved to Avalon and Tullamarine is unworkable and shows how out of touch Labor is with rural residents.

“Regional development relies heavily on rural businesses and industry being able to easily access our capital cities. Often big business will not set up in rural or regional areas unless there is a direct air link to the State capital,” he said.

“Avalon is too far out of Melbourne’s CBD to cater for this need, and forcing regional airlines like Sharp to Tullamarine would make these services unviable.

Mr Hawker said this meeting provides a great opportunity for Western Victorians to show Labor’s out-of-touch city members what an important resource Essendon Airport is for rural Victorians.

“I strongly urge all Western Victorians to attend this important meeting and voice their support for this important link to our capital city,” Mr Hawker said.

The meeting will be held at the Hamilton Performing Arts Centre, Brown Street, Hamilton, on Wednesday 5th November at 12.30pm.

For more information contact Mr Hawker’s office on 1300 131 692.

- ENDS -

Media contact: Jane Templeton (02) 6277 4118

STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS Essendon Airport Speech

Mr HAWKER (Wannon) (6.43 p.m.)—Tonight I want to talk about the importance of keeping the Essendon Airport going. I say this in the context of the local member, the member for Wills, and the state Premier, John Brumby, both seeming to have some idea that it should close. I think this is further proof that Labor really does not care about the regions, because Essendon is an airport that is all about servicing regional Victoria. We have regional air services like Sharp Airlines, which comes from Hamilton and looks after people from right across Western Victoria. We also have the life-saving Air Ambulance. This provides access, directly down the Tullamarine Freeway, to three major hospitals: the Royal Children’s Hospital, the Royal Melbourne Hospital and the Royal Women’s Hospital. Then we have the Police Air Wing, the Elvis firefighting helicopters and a number of other emergency services based there. Clearly this is a very, very important facility for people in regional Australia. In 2007, Air Ambulance had 3,400 fixed-wing flights into the Essendon Airport, there were nearly 770 helicopter flights, and 136 newborn babies were transferred to newborn units in Melbourne hospitals in emergency situations. The suggestion that you could move this to another airport is unworkable. I think it shows very clearly that Labor does not understand the importance of Essendon Airport for the regions. When we look at the development, Sharp Airlines is now catering for 20,000 customers a year. I could go on a lot more. (Time expired)

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