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8 May 2007 011TRS/Budget

The Australian Government will spend $22 million over the next four years ($1.5 million in 2007-08) to contribute to improved safety at up to 300 airstrips in remote and isolated areas of Australia.

The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport and Regional Services, Mark Vaile, made the announcement today.

"Many communities in remote Australia depend on air services for essential supplies, mail, passenger transport and medical care, especially if their roads become unusable because of the weather," Mr Vaile said.

"The Australian Government subsidises a weekly air service to more than 230 isolated communities under the Remote Air Services Subsidy (RASS) scheme, but a growing number of the airstrips used by those communities need to be upgraded.

"In addition, many other isolated airstrips used by the Royal Flying Doctor Service need essential repairs and maintenance.

"The funding announced today will be available to upgrade up to 300 airstrips in remote and isolated communities that:

  • receive weekly air services under the RASS scheme or are eligible to receive air services under the scheme; or
  • would be eligible to receive RASS services if their airstrip was upgraded to meet the scheme's safety standards; or
  • need a better airstrip to support the operations of the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

"The funding will be available to repair and upgrade runway surfaces, safety equipment such as runway lighting and navigation aids, and infrastructure such as fences and gates. The scheme will not cover terminals, buildings, hangars or on-airport commercial developments.

"The funding will generally be provided on a joint basis with the state or territory government and the airstrip owner, which will usually be a local council or Indigenous organisation," he said.

The Government will release the guidelines for the new scheme in June.

Media contact: Tim Langmead 02 6277 7680/0421 584 990