Chapter 2 - Transport and Regional Services Portfolio

Chapter 2 - Transport and Regional Services Portfolio

Department of Transport and Regional Services

2.1        The committee heard evidence from the department on Monday 21 May and Tuesday 22 May 2007. The hearings were conducted in the following order:

Secretary's Overview

2.2        Proceedings opened with an overview of developments in the department by the Secretary, Mr Mike Taylor. Mr Taylor noted the enactment of the legislation transferring airspace regulatory functions from Airservices Australia to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), which is scheduled to come into force as of 1 July 2007.[1]

Corporate Services

2.3        The committee sought to understand the difference between support for regional aviation and airports and the Remote Airservices Subsidy Scheme (RASS). The department proceeded to explain that RASS is a subsidy for operators, whereas, the new measure to support regional aviation and airports is focussed on upgrading and supporting airports in remote and rural areas.[2]

2.4        The committee also asked for an update of tables in the 2006-07 Portfolio Budget Statements (PBS), and explanations for various measures in the 2007-08 PBS, including the budget allocation for, and the administration of, the following items:

Portfolio Strategic Policy and Projects

2.5        The committee raised the following issues with officers of the Portfolio Strategic Policy and Projects division:


2.6        The committee asked about expenditure under, and administration of, the AusLink Strategic Regional Program. The department informed the committee that the current round is operating differently to the previous round. The government has nominated a list of projects for funding, comprising projects regarded as priorities by government and applications which were eligible, but unsuccessful in the initial round. Offers are contingent on the following conditions: the project must be completed within three years, acceptance must be confirmed by mid-June, and in some cases, joint funding is required.[4]

2.7        The committee requested updates on current projects on the Hume, Pacific and Bruce Highways, and asked about the contributions by state and Commonwealth governments.[5]

2.8        The committee sought updates on non-network projects as well as the following AusLink projects:

2.9        Other matters raised included:

Maritime and Land Transport

2.10      The committee held a brief discussion with officers of Maritime and Land Transport division regarding:

Australian Transport Safety Bureau

2.11      The committee discussed the Australian Transport Safety Bureau's (ATSB) report on the Lockhart River air tragedy, and sought information on the following matters:

2.12      The committee also heard evidence on:

Australian Maritime Safety Authority

2.13      The committee held a brief discussion with officers of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) on:

Aviation and Airports

2.14      The committee raised the following issues with the Aviation and Airports division:

Civil Aviation Safety Authority

2.15      The committee discussed the findings of ATSB's report on the Lockhart River air disaster and the two recommendations made in relation to CASA at some length. Mr Byron, the Chief Executive Officer, stated that CASA '...fully agree with the ATSB that there is a need for CASA to improve the way in which we oversight the management of airlines at all levels' and '...totally agree with the ATSB that risk assessment is an important part of the way an operator oversights their operation and the way CASA looks at operators', but that they do not believe that those factors were directly linked to the failures causing the crash.[8]

2.16      Mr Byron also indicated that CASA have already increased surveillance, and the effects of this measure had become evident by late 2005. In addition, CASA have made a commitment to respond to ATSB regarding the recommendations made, to review action taken in that regard on a monthly basis, and to report to the minister.[9]

2.17      The committee also discussed:

Airservices Australia

2.18      The committee discussed various issues with officers of Airservices Australia, including:

Inspector of Transport Security

2.19      The committee had a brief discussion with the Inspector of Transport Security regarding inquiries undertaken, meetings held with foreign agencies, and the budget and staffing of the Office.[10]

Office of Transport Security

2.20      The committee asked a series of questions regarding Maritime Security Identification Cards (MSICs). Information was sought on:

2.21      Other matters raised included:

Regional Services

2.22      The committee pursued the following issues with officers of the Regional Services division:

National Capital Authority

2.23      The committee discussed the following issues with officers from the National Capital Authority:

Territories and Local Government

2.24      The committee raised the following matters with the Territories and Local Government division:

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