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"Connecting contributions to excellence": Keynote address to Waypoint 2008 - Airservices Australia.



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KEYNOTE ADDRESS: “CONNECTING CONTRIBUTIONS TO EXCELLENCE”

WAYPOINT 2008 - AIRSERVICES AUSTRALIA

WEDNESDAY, 25 JUNE

ANZAC HALL, AUSTRALIAN WAR MEMORIAL

Introduction…

Thank you for the warm welcome David, and good evening ladies and gentlemen.

I think we would all agree that this is a most unique - and spectacular - dinner setting.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that I would be dining out under the wings of ‘G for George’.

This iconic plane flew some 90 missions between 1943 and 1944, and has the proud record of bringing home alive every crewman who flew in him.

I understand there are only 17 of these magnificent flying machines left intact throughout the world, so we are fortunate to be up close and personal with George tonight.

Aviation Growth…

A couple of weeks ago I released aviation growth forecasts published by the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE).

The report predicts that our airports are set to become even busier, with passenger numbers estimated to double within just two decades.

Last year, the number of international passengers arriving and departing from Australian airports rose by 6 per cent to almost 23 million - the highest number ever carried in a single calendar year.

BITRE forecast that the number of air passenger movements through Australian airports is projected to grow by 4 per cent to 228 million by the year 2026, which is underpinned by continued economic growth.

This growth is forecast across all of our capital city airports, with the largest growth in annual passenger numbers, 4.7 per cent, expected to be in Perth with numbers likely to reach 17.7 million.

Sydney is set to remain our busiest airport. Forecast growth of 4 percent would see annual passenger numbers grow to 63 million by 2025-26.

This forecasted growth leaves the aviation industry with a number of fundamental questions and challenges.

Not only are our airports getting busier, but airlines are finding it increasingly difficult to find skilled staff, particularly pilots and engineers.

Flight delays and cancellations are becoming more frequent, while an added dimension is that planes account for at least two percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

And let’s not forget aircraft noise, which is a major issue for people who live close to our major airports.

The Rudd Government is committed to working with the aviation industry and the community to meet these many challenges.

We understand the aviation sector’s importance to Australia’s future economic development within the era of globalisation. Today, more than ever, the aviation industry underpins domestic economic growth and provides vital gateways to the global economy.

This sector supports almost 50,000 jobs and contributes an estimated $6.8 billion to our gross national product.

Turning back to Sydney for just a few moments, where the debate on whether Sydney needs a second airport has re-emerged.

Certainly, the Labor Government supports a second airport for Sydney.

It's quite clear, as John Borghetti from Qantas told a TTF conference in Melbourne on 10 April, demand for Sydney is outstripping the capacity of Sydney Airport to deal with it.

But we need to look at this in the whole context of the national development of aviation strategy.

We need to look at aviation, as well, in the broader context of a national infrastructure strategy.

We do not want to perpetuate a piecemeal approach to Australia’s infrastructure. We want to establish a truly national approach.

The theme for this conference is ‘Connections’ and I am not drawing too long a bow to say that the Rudd Government is also about making connections.

In terms of transport this means that our policy agenda is an integrated one - it is not limited to just one mode of transport and it is not about trying to avoid responsibilities based on Commonwealth, state and local government boundaries.

National Aviation Policy Statement - the Aviation White Paper…

I know my Department gave detailed information on the Aviation White Paper this afternoon, but it is important that I emphasise that a national aviation policy statement is long overdue.

Many of you here tonight may have already responded to the Issues Paper released in April, but, if you haven’t, please note that public submissions to the Issues Paper will close this Friday.

Later this year, the Government will release an Aviation Green Paper outlining possible policy directions, settings and reforms; and conduct a further period of public consultation.

After consideration of industry and community input, we will then finalise an Aviation White Paper to guide and shape the industry’s growth over the coming decade and beyond.

The Aviation White Paper should be completed around the middle of next year.

International Aviation…

The Government has also recently put into place a number of significant aviation policy initiatives in the international arena.

I was very pleased that in the past fortnight European transport ministers approved a mandate for the European Commission to negotiate an EU-wide ‘comprehensive’ air services agreement with Australia.

This is a significant step forward in the aviation relationship between Australia and the European Union, which is Australia’s largest aviation market.

The simple fact is that cheaper airfares and a greater variety of European cities being served would be a win for consumers and for the tourism industry.

Of course, recent progress with Europe builds on the Rudd Government’s success in concluding an Open Skies agreement with the US.

Aviation Skills…

Earlier this evening, I said that the airlines are finding it increasingly difficult to find skilled staff, particularly pilots and engineers. Last week I launched a new aviation training package that will help to address this gap.

For the first time, CASA and Defence have agreed on national standards and requirements. This will allow aviation workers to move more freely between civilian and defence workforces, and make clearer the way people get pilot and other aviation industry qualifications.

I am also very pleased to note that Airservices Australia and Safeskies are working on a proposal to improve the training of pilot instructors.

The simple fact is that better trained pilots make for safer air travel.

A number of airlines, including Qantas and Rex are establishing formal training schemes in partnership with educational institutions. This is an important initiative on a couple of levels.

Firstly, it has the potential to provide more certainty for the industry in planning its workforce, and secondly, it makes a career in aviation a more appealing career choice for budding pilots.

Aviation Environment…

Sitting here below the wings of G for George, it’s pretty clear we’re in the presence of one of ‘big birds’ of the British heavy bombers.

But it’s no match - size wise at least - with the Airbus A-380.

Despite their differences in size, they share some interesting similarities.

Both are the result of intensive research and development, are comprised of parts manufactured in different countries, and both can carry enormous loads.

It was this load capacity that set George apart from the other aircraft of the time, and it is the Airbus’s advanced technology and huge passenger capacity that makes it such an exciting aircraft.

On its inaugural flight into Sydney last year, it carried 455 passengers and 35 crew.

Captain Robert Ting, Singapore Airlines Chief Pilot and the man who landed the historic first commercial flight of an A380 Airbus - the biggest milestone in civil aviation in nearly four decades - is with us tonight.

Its efficiency and advanced technology means it burns 17 per cent less fuel than the next largest aircraft.

The A380 also has a smaller noise footprint on take off and landing, which reduces the impact of aircraft noise on residential areas.

Qantas have ordered 20 A380 aircraft with options for 4 more, and the first aircraft is expected to be delivered later this year.

While I’m on this topic of new technologies meeting growing levels of demand, I’d like to take a few moments to talk about Airservices Australia’s new National Operations Centre.

National Operations Centre (NOC)…

Airservices Australia has made an important contribution to meeting the challenges of increased passenger numbers with the establishment of the NOC, and it is my great pleasure to officially launch it tonight.

The Centre has three primary functions which will be delivered progressively over the next 18 months to two years.

These are: • Nationally coordinated strategic air traffic flow management, • national coordination of aviation crisis and business continuity; and

• corporate coordination and response to emerging business issues.

NOC’s General Manager, Stephen Angus, will detail the Centres’ functions in his address tomorrow.

I congratulate everyone involved in the development and establishment of NOC.

Congratulations are also in order to a number of Airservices staff who are to be honoured tonight as part of the inaugural Chairman’s Awards for Professional Excellence.

Conclusion…

To bring these various strands together, I’d like to once again refer to the title of this conference - Waypoint 2008.

People involved in the aviation industry would be aware a waypoint is a reference point in physical space used for the purposes of navigation. In other words, it is a checkpoint.

The Rudd Government recognises that Australia is at an important checkpoint in our history.

We do not want to perpetuate the past piecemeal approach to Australia’s infrastructure.

We want to establish a truly national approach backed by proper long-term planning.

We realise one of the keys to driving this process forward and achieving the best possible outcomes is through close collaboration with all levels of government and the private sector.

Events such as this help build on this spirit of cooperation and partnership, and I’m pleased to have the opportunity to speak with you tonight.

I would like to thank Airservices Australia for staging this important forum - and in such a unique venue.

I wish the industry well with your ongoing Waypoint discussions tomorrow.

And I look forward to your valuable input to help us complete Australia’s first Aviation White Paper next year.

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