Bills Digest No. 52   1997-98 Sydney Airport Demand Management Bill 1997

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This Digest was prepared for debate. It reflects the legislation as introduced and does not canvass subsequent amendments. This Digest does not have any official legal status. Other sources should be consulted to determine the subsequent official status of the Bill.


Passage History

Sydney Airport Demand Management Bill 1997

Date Introduced: 25 September 1997
House: House of Representatives
Portfolio: Transport and Regional Development
Commencement: On the day the Act receives the Royal Assent, except for Part 2 The maximum aircraft movement limit at Sydney Airport and Part 3 Penalties, which commence on Proclamation, or if no Proclamation is made, six months after the Act receives the Royal Assent.


The Bill imposes a legislative cap on aircraft movements (maximum of 80 per hour) for Kingsford-Smith Airport in Sydney by the introduction of a management system (including a slot management scheme) to be administered by a corporate Slot Manager and enforced by a Compliance Committee.


Kingsford-Smith Airport (KSA) in Sydney is Australia's primary international airport and domestic hub.During peak periods the airport handles up to 75 aircraft movements per hour.The need to provide fair access for international, domestic and regional flights is important.The present system includes cluster scheduling where a group of flights are scheduled with the same arrival or departure time.If applied on a literal basis, the practice of cluster scheduling would be well beyond the capacity of KSA to manage.The Bill imposes a slot management scheme (SMS) which will spread aircraft movements evenly across each hour of operation of KSA.

KSA is run by the Commonwealth's Federal Airports Corporation.Three other capital city airports, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth were privatised (by way of long-term lease) in June 1997.They were sold for in excess of $3.3 billion.Brisbane will be run by Scihphol Amsterdam Airport and Melbourne will be run by Britain's BAA.Perth has been bought by a consortium which includes US investor George Soros and aviation giant Lockheed Martin.(1)

The SMS has been developed in cooperation with the aviation industry.It limits the number of scheduled aircraft movements in any five-minute period.Aircraft movements are spread more evenly over the hour.The system includes a compliance requirement which penalises airlines for poor on-time performance.The system also includes the setting aside of dedicated regional slots for regional airlines.These regional slots are not available for swapping or sale to domestic interstate operators or international services.New entrants will have access to slots.

This airport demand management scheme will be confined to KSA.

Main Provisions

Clause 3 explains that relevant definitions are found in Schedule 1 to the Bill.An asterisk in the front of a word or term (first occurring) in the legislation means that it is a defined term.Some very basic words or terms are defined but because of their prevalence they are not preceded by an asterisk.These terms are aircraft, slot and Sydney Airport.

Digest Note: Sydney Airport is defined in Schedule 1 as Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport.It is referred to in this Digest and in the Explanatory Memorandum to the Bill as KSA.

Clause 4 is a summary of the Parts contained in the Bill.

Clause 6 is the key provision in the Bill.It limits aircraft movements at KSA to no more than 80 aircraft movements in any regulated hour of airport operation.Hourly movements are measured at 15 minute intervals.A regulated hour is defined to exclude any curfew period.Regulation within the curfew period is covered by a separate statute, the Sydney Airport Curfew Act 1995.Aircraft movements caused by an emergency (e.g. medical emergency, search and rescue or natural disaster) can be excluded from the movement count (see also Clauses 29 and 30).

Clause 7 empowers the Minister to set a lower maximum movement limit.The Minister's determination is a disallowable instrument.Under Clause 8, the Minister must consult with specified persons (by giving notice in the Gazette) of his or her proposal to issue a determination.Clause 8 becomes redundant if the requirements of the proposed Legislative Instruments Act 1997 (now before Parliament) come into force.

Clause 9 makes it obligatory for the Commonwealth's Airservices Australia to monitor compliance with the maximum aircraft movement limit and to report to the Minister, quarterly.These quarterly reports to the Minister must be tabled in Parliament.

Clauses 10 to 32 comprise the penalty regime which will apply under the SMS.The SMS is controlled by a Slot Manager who may declare in writing that certain aircraft movements do not have to fall within their allocated slot, thus avoiding a penalty.The Slot Manager is actually a body corporate appointed under the legislation (see Clause 60).The penalties imposed are civil penalties which may be the subject of an order by the Federal Court.The penalties are set-out in Clause 14 and range from $22,000 to $220,000.Clause 19 empowers a Compliance Committee to direct the Slot Manager to issue an infringement notice.The penalty is either paid by the airline or the airline may prefer the matter to go to the Federal Court.The Compliance Committee is appointed by the Minister pursuant to Regulations (see Clause 67).Penalties are payable to the Slot Manager which collects the penalty on behalf of the Commonwealth.

Clauses 33 to 37 establish the Slot Management Scheme (SMS).It is, essentially, a system for the allocation of permission for an aircraft movement at KSA within the maximum movement limit (a maximum of 80 per regulated hour).The slot is really a technical word substitution for 'permission'.A slot is issued for a specified aircraft movement at a specified time on a specified day.A slot is not transferable but there is scope for swapping under the SMS.The SMS will include provisions for variation, suspension, cancellation, surrender or swapping of allocated slots.The SMS must be consistent with any relevant Regulations and any determination issued by the Minister (see Clauses 35 and 36).The SMS is approved in draft form by the Minister (Clause 40).The SMS and the Minister's approval comprise a combined determination which is a disallowable instrument.Both the Minister and the Compliance Committee have additional powers i.e. the Minister can direct the Slot Manager to vary the SMS, and the Compliance Committee can recommend to the Slot Manager that variations to the SMS should be made (see Clauses 46 and 47, respectively).

Clauses 48 to 59 establish the Compliance Scheme for KSA.The Compliance Scheme contains an identification of the circumstances which may give rise to an infringement notice.The Compliance Scheme sets out the amounts of penalties applicable and provisions for reconsideration of decisions made under the Compliance Scheme.The Compliance Scheme must be consistent with relevant Regulations and any determination imposing additional requirements applied by the Minister.The Minister's determination is a disallowable instrument.The Compliance Scheme is developed by the Compliance Committee and approved in draft form by the Minister (see Clauses 52 and 54, respectively).The Compliance Scheme and the Minister's approval comprise a combined determination which is a disallowable instrument (Clause 54).The Minister may also request the Compliance Committee to develop amendments (Clause 57).

Clauses 60 to 65 cover the establishment of the Slot Manager.As noted above, the Slot Manager is a body corporate which is subject to civil action, in limited circumstances.It is specifically excluded from status as a Commonwealth authority, except for certain provisions of the Crimes Act 1914 (e.g. the fraud and corruption provisions).The Slot Manager has immunity from legal actions for loss or damage caused in the performance of its functions, but not from liability caused by negligence (Clause 64).

Clauses 66 to 69 establish the Compliance Committee for KSA.The members of the Compliance Committee are appointed by the Minister.The Compliance Committee is not a Commonwealth authority.The Compliance Committee has immunity from legal actions for any loss or damage caused in the performance of functions, but not from liability caused by negligence.

Clause 73 provides the legislation with extra-territorial effect.

Schedule 1 to the Bill contains relevant definitions.

Schedule 2 to the Bill contains minor consequential amendments to the Airports Act 1996.

Concluding Comments

There is speculation that the enforcement of a slot management system for aircraft movements at KSA may tend to assist the competitiveness of the privatised airports in Brisbane and Melbourne, particularly for international carriers.A counter argument is that the congestion at KSA is only at peak times and if congestion alone was the determining factor, then it has not diminished the efficiency and attractiveness of London's Heathrow airport which has long faced a problem with congestion.(2)


  1. See Tom Ballantyne, 'Come Fly With Me', The Bulletin, Sydney, 1 July 1997: 38.
  2. Ibid

Contact Officer and Copyright Details

Brendan Bailey
30 September 1997
Bills Digest Service
Information and Research Services

This Digest does not have any official legal status. Other sources should be consulted to determine whether the Bill has been enacted and, if so, whether the subsequent Act reflects further amendments.

IRS staff are available to discuss the paper's contents with Senators and Members and their staff but not with members of the public.

ISSN 1328-8091
© Commonwealth of Australia 1997

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Published by the Department of the Parliamentary Library, 1997.

This page was prepared by the Parliamentary Library, Commonwealth of Australia
Last updated: 30 September 1997

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