Mr RAMSEY (Grey—Opposition Whip) (13:33): It gives me no pleasure to tell this House, ‘I told you so,’ but: I told you so. The government has pulled the funding for the security scanners in regional airports right around Australia. I warned this place that it would affect Whyalla the worst, and it is the first one to feel the brunt of that decision. Rex Airlines announced last week that they are pulling out of Whyalla. The Whyalla City Council was left with a bill, facing around $1.2 million a year, as every other regional airport in Australia will face after 30 June. They decided that they would put that bill evenly on both airlines. Rex Airlines had telegraphed the fact they would pull out if that was the result, because their aeroplanes don’t actually need scanning, because they are of a smaller variety.
This is a position the Whyalla City Council should never have been put into. It is a position the government should never have taken. It is a decision which is impacting rural and regional Australia completely unfairly. National airline security is a national issue. It should be nationally funded by a national levy on every ticket sold in Australia, not piling it up on those who face the greatest tyranny of distance, who have to use the airlines for their health, for their family connections and for their business connections. This will drag $1 million plus a year out of Whyalla, Port Lincoln, Kingscote and Mount Gambier. It’s a terrible decision.