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8 May 2007 013TRS/Budget

The 2007-08 Budget provides $9 million over three years ($3 million in 2007-08) to introduce mandatory drug and alcohol testing in the aviation industry. The mandatory tests will start in 2008.

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

"The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) recommended that the Government introduce mandatory testing following an air accident on Hamilton Island that killed six people. The ATSB concluded that the pilot's use of alcohol and cannabis could have been a factor in the crash," Mr Vaile said.

"Companies in the industry will be required to have drug and alcohol programmes in place as a condition of their certification. Their programmes will have to be approved by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and will have to include drug and alcohol tests, education and support for their employees.

"These corporate programmes will cover up to 60,000 people working in safety sensitive positions in the industry, including flight crew, cabin crew, air traffic controllers, baggage handlers and ground staff.

"In addition, CASA will carry out its own random testing programme. CASA will need to do its own tests to cover people in the industry like private pilots and contractors, who have safety sensitive jobs but do not work for companies that will have their own programmes. The CASA testing programme will cover an additional 60,000 people in the industry.

"People in safety sensitive jobs who fail a drug or alcohol test will have to be suspended from their position and referred to a substance abuse professional. The companies' drug and alcohol programmes will then have to provide support and assistance to help employees overcome their problems and return to work.

"The drug and alcohol programmes will help make sure that people in the industry and the travelling public are not exposed to danger because someone is abusing drugs or alcohol.

"The Government has worked closely with the industry since May 2006 to develop the arrangements for these programmes, which will help make sure there are no more accidents like the one on Hamilton Island," Mr Vaile said.

The funding announced today will enable CASA to regulate and audit the corporate drug and alcohol programmes, to conduct an education campaign about the risks of drug and alcohol abuse in the aviation industry, and to conduct its random tests. The industry will be responsible for meeting the costs of its corporate programmes.

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