Tuesday, 23 November 2021
Mildura is one of the most geographically isolated major regional centres in Victoria. To travel to Adelaide, locals must travel 4½ hours by car—six hours to Melbourne. It underscores why the Mildura Airport is so important to so many people in Sunraysia. In a normal year, 280,000 trips are made to connect people with their loved ones or for medical treatment, work or holidays. It is significant that seven per cent of these flights have had to redirect due to adverse weather conditions. Of course, safety must come first, but diverting flights causes delays that can have a profound impact on people's lives and timetables. It can leave people stranded in other cities overnight. I know; I've had to do it myself. Particularly for those travelling for medical reasons, delays can be very difficult to manage.
I made an election promise to address this problem for the residents of Sunraysia, and I have campaigned successfully for an instrument landing system. This week I was proud to open Mildura Airport's new instrument landing system, funded by the Community Development Grants Program. The Morrison-Joyce government paid $2 million for the ILS; $1 million was added by the Mildura Rural City Council, and $1 million was added by Mildura Airport.
The ILS provides the lateral and vertical guidance necessary to fly a precision approach in times of low visibility and fog. This project will provide critical safety and security measures for planes to land, rather than be turned back to Melbourne, Sydney or whatever they've come from. The physical installation of the equipment has been completed, and the design procedures are currently being finalised to go live in February 2022. The ILS project secured 23 jobs throughout construction and will create 50 going forward.
Residents of Mildura and the surrounds will now be able to fly with greater reliability and peace of mind with this critical infrastructure. It's calculated that Mildura inbound and outbound flights will boast a 99 per cent completion rate, rather than 93 per cent without the ILS. Mildura Airport also serves as an emergency landing base for commercial flights, and this upgrade will ensure enhanced safety in the event of an emergency—such as that which occurred in 2013, when a Qantas jet from Sydney and a Virgin jet from Brisbane, both bound for Adelaide, managed to land safely in fog in Mildura. This was a high-risk situation, but, due to low fuel, there were no options left. The ILS will profoundly reduce the risks and make this kind of approach much safer. The Liberal-National government is committed to efficiency and safety for regional Australians and is delivering— (Time expired)