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Better Search and Rescue Services for Australia

John Anderson, Deputy Prime Minister,  Minister for Transport and Regional Services and Leader of the Nationals

TRS11/Budget 10th May 2005

The Australian Government will dramatically improve Australia's search and rescue capability. It will fund a network of high-speed search and rescue aircraft equipped with the latest technology.

The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport and Regional Services, John Anderson, made the announcement today. The Government will spend $54.7 million on the new search and rescue package over four years.

"Australia is responsible for search and rescue across 10 per cent of the earth's surface, and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) co-ordinates searches that rescue 350 people a year. It needs to have the best planes and the best equipment," Mr Anderson said.

"The Government will fund an extra four high-speed search and rescue aircraft. Three of them will be ready to take off at short notice from bases in far north Queensland, southeast Australia and southwest Australia. The fourth will be in reserve. The Government has already funded a new high-speed search and rescue aircraft in Darwin.

"The new turboprop aircraft will be faster and will fly further than the existing piston-engined aircraft used for search and rescue. They will have the latest technology: surface search radars, Forward Looking Infra Red (FLIR) equipment and satellite communications.

"The aircraft will be able to carry out searches at night and in poor weather, and will be able to home in on emergency beacons and radio distress calls. They will also be capable of dropping emergency equipment.

"The new aircraft are expected to be operational by mid-2006," Mr Anderson said.

The package also includes funding to upgrade the equipment used by the existing fleet of search and rescue aircraft. The new equipment will include self-locating datum marker buoys; these are dropped into the sea to help predict where the survivors of an accident could have drifted. The new buoys will transmit their readings directly to the Rescue Coordination Centre by satellite. The existing buoys have to be overflown by an aircraft.

Maritime Emergency Towage Services

In addition, the Government will provide funding in 2004-05 and 2005-06 to ensure the maintenance of the current maritime emergency towage capability and services around the Australian coastline. The funding will be made available on a competitive basis.


Media contacts:
Paul Chamberlin Mr Anderson's office 02 6277 7680 / 0419 233 989