A decision by Labor to cut funding for security scanner operating costs at regional airports will have serious consequences for both Whyalla and Port Lincoln airports.
Federal Member for Grey Rowan Ramsey said he is disgusted support was scrapped in Labor’s Budget toward the ongoing cost of scanners at both airports.
“The Coalition funded the upgrade of the Whyalla airport and the installation and ongoing cost of the scanners in regional airports with comparatively low passenger numbers around Australia, including Port Lincoln,” he said.
“In March’s budget we included a top-up of $28.5m for the Regional Airport Screening Infrastructure Program to keep meeting their one million a year operational cost.
“At this stage there is nothing but tough choices in front of both councils, as owners of the airports. “They can absorb the million a year, they can raise the landing fees and Qantas can either absorb the cost or pass it on to the passengers at about $50 a seat in Whyalla or about $18 in Lincoln.
“I can’t see any of these outcomes being anything like viable.
“While I understand enough remains in the old allocation to keep the scanners operational until early next year, unless the Government restores the funding it is difficult to see how the Qantas flights can possibly survive.”
Mr Ramsey said it was unconscionable that in Mr Albanese’s first Budget, this funding, vital to the competitiveness of regional airports has been siphoned away to fund pet projects back in the city.
“National airline security is a national concern and requires a national solution,” he said.
“It should be funded by a flat cost per seat across all flights in Australia.”
“I raised this issue before the budget and warned the Government if this funding was not re-instated it will kill-off the Qantas service in Whyalla.
“But my pleas fell on deaf ears.
“I fought hard to secure capital support for these upgrades, the installation of the security scanning equipment and most importantly operating costs.
“The installation of the security equipment was mandatory and a national decision- there should be national support.
“Whyalla and Port Lincoln airports will now have no support to cover these ongoing costs.
“I have put a Question in Writing to the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government Catherine King and will wait to hear how she can justify this decision.”
Media contact: Leonie Lloyd-Smith
27 October, 2022