Thank you to those members who’ve contributed to the debate on the Airports Amendment Bill. The federal government regulates planning and development on federally leased airport sites through the Airports Act 1996. On 1 December 2016 the former minister, the Hon. Darren Chester MP, introduced the bill into the House of Representatives. The bill proposes several measures that were developed in consultation with key industry stakeholders to streamline certain administrative arrangements in the act relating to master plans and major development plans that are currently generating inefficient outcomes for industry as well as imposing unnecessary and onerous administrative and compliance costs. In particular, the bill proposes to implement a differential master plan submission cycle, therefore requiring the major airports, being Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney—that is, Kingsford Smith and Sydney West airports—to main the current five-year submission cycle, while the remaining airports will provide a master plan every eight years.
The bill also proposes to increase the current $20 million monetary trigger for a major development plan to $25 million. This monetary threshold will be reviewed and revised by legislative instrument every three years, having regard to changes in construction activity costs and associated indexations to ensure that the monetary trigger accurately reflects and keeps pace with economic and marketplace conditions. The bill reinforces the government’s commitment to improving the capacity of our regulatory framework to ensure that it continues to deliver a proportionate and efficiency based approach that reduces administrative and compliance costs for operators, creates regulatory certainty for industry and maintains appropriate and effective regulatory oversight.
On 9 February 2017 the bill was referred to the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee for inquiry and report by March last year. Following an accident at Essendon Airport, the Senate granted an extension of time for reporting, to 19 March this year. In March this year the committee recommended that the Senate pass the airports bill, and their report made it clear—just for the avoidance of doubt—that there is no linkage between the accident at Essendon Airport and the matters that are under consideration in this bill.
The government contends that the bill will bring about positive changes for the aviation industry and airport users while still maintaining appropriate regulatory oversight, and this bill should be supported. I commend the bill to the Senate.