$2.4m upgrade for airport
Monday, 22nd July, 2019
By Callum Marshall
New South Wales Deputy Premier John Barilaro was in the city over the weekend to announce, amongst other things, $2.4m in funding for the Broken Hill Airport.
The money will come from the state government’s $170 million Drought Stimulus Package and provides upgrades that will improve the airport’s safety and bring it up to speed with current technology.
Mr Barilaro said the money would replace aged lighting, cabling, T-Vasis radio navigation infrastructure, path indicator lighting to guide planes to the runway and boundary fencing to prevent wildlife from entering the airfield.
“We know connectivity is so important for people living regionally and that’s why we are prioritising these upgrades, to ensure the airport continues to host landings from commercial flights, private charters and 24-hour emergency services.
“This airport upgrade will also give Broken Hill’s local businesses and industries, including mining and film and screen production, the reassurance they need to continue to operate efficiently and effectively down the track.”
When asked how many jobs the airport upgrades would provide, as well as what impact it would have for the local economy, Mr Barilaro said he expected the state-wide stimulus package to provide thousands of jobs down the line.
“I wouldn’t know the breakdown for this particular project, the reality is every project is different,” he said.
“But if you think about the $170 million of investment across the state, at the end of this program we’ll be talking about thousands of direct jobs initially.
“But it’s not about the initial jobs, it’s about the long-term jobs that come off the back of infrastructure that has a long-lasting benefit.”
When asked about past comments that the airline service REX made about there being an over-development of airport upgrades occurring when demand wasn’t there, Mr Barilaro said airport upgrades, as well as competition, was needed in regional areas.
“We need carriers and we’re very lucky in regional and rural New South Wales that REX is an airline that has worn losses over many years, and without REX I think a lot of airports in the regions wouldn’t have a carrier service,” he said.
“But at the end of the day we’ve got to upgrade our airports.
“In the last eight years we’ve seen something like $100 million going into regional airport upgrades.
“But it’s more than just the carrier service, it’s about industrial precincts attached to the airports.
“The other side of all of that, is that we do want to see competition in the regions and some of the other carriers are saying, ‘we need certain upgrades.’
“And if you look across the state we’ve seen Qantas or Virgin or other players come into the market.
“I’m sure people here in Broken Hill may say that the air prices are high, and competition could actually put some downward pressure on that.”
Broken Hill City Council will also contribute $817,000 to deliver the project with Mayor Darriea Turley welcoming the state government’s funding and the opportunities that would flow-on from it.
“The job opportunities that follow from this project will give our community some much-needed relief from the pressures of drought,” Ms Turley said.
“We want people to know Broken Hill is still open for business, whether you are visiting as a tourist or an investor.”
The Deputy Premier was also in the city to visit the completion of the state government’s $700,000 upgrade to the E C Andrews Drillcore Facility and to help officially open Patton Park after its $700,000 refurbishment.