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Aviation aid package for Indonesia.

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29 March 2007

Aviation aid package for Indonesia

The Australian Government should propose an assistance package for Indonesia that will make a practical and lasting difference to our neighbour's aviation safety standards.

Last week the political divide was forgotten as Government and Opposition joined together to grieve for the Australians who lost their lives in the crash and extend best wishes to the injured Australian survivors. The Federal Parliament also united in an expression of sympathy to the Indonesian people for their loss of life in the Garuda crash.

The value of Australian assistance was highlighted in the wake of the catastrophe. Australia already has in place an agreement that will enable an Indonesian investigator to train with the Australian Transport Safety Bureau for 12 months from the middle of next year.

But we can, and must, do more. Australian assistance must not end at the conclusion of the current crash investigation. In the wake of this tragedy we must do all we reasonably can to prevent future disasters.

An aviation safety audit released this week serves as a stark reminder of the state of Indonesian air safety. It has found that not one of Indonesia's airlines, including Garuda, fully comply with domestic aviation safety regulations.

Aviation safety in Indonesia is not just a matter of concern for Indonesians. Garuda and other Indonesian airlines fly in and out of Australian airports. Garuda alone provides scheduled services out of Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Darwin. Additionally, an increasing number of Australians live and work in Indonesia. Indonesia, including Bali, remains a popular Australian holiday destination.

Australia doesn’t just have an interest in Indonesian aviation safety, we have got the capacity to make a real difference.

While this is not a traditional priority for the Australian Aid Program, it is a significant point of shared national interest. The scope of a final assistance package would need to be determined by negotiation with our Indonesian neighbours.

However, as a starting point, Australia should be open to an integrated assistance package containing the following elements:

• Aviation safety regulation • Air traffic control • Aviation security; and • Air safety investigation

An assistance package that incorporated these elements would help our Indonesian neighbours improve passenger safety from departure gate to landing gate.

As a nation, this would be a fitting - and lasting - response to the tragedy of Garuda Flight 200.


Sabina Curatolo 0400 318 205