Joint Media Statement - $1.7 million for airstrip upgrades in O’Connor
Remote communities in O’Connor are set to benefit from improved access to basic services and essential deliveries such as food, medicine and mail, as part of projects announced today under the Remote Airstrip Upgrade Programme.
Federal Member for O’Connor Rick Wilson MP said funding of $1.7 million would see the commencement of three upgrade projects to airstrips in Norseman, Laverton and Ilkurlka.
Mr Wilson said he had been campaigning for an upgrade to regional airstrips, particularly Norseman, where there was concern Royal Flying Doctor Service planes could not land during wet weather.
“Not only are these airstrips essential in delivering goods and services, they also connect remote communities with each other and alleviate the tyranny of distance,” he said.
“They provide a reliable means of transport to connect people not only with neighboring communities, but with the rest of Australia.
“I am delighted to see the Australian Government continuing its investment in our community, particularly through key transport upgrades such as this.”
Mr Wilson created a video and petition to gather community support for the project and collected over 1,000 signatures for a petition.
“We got a result because the community got behind us, and really helped the campaign for the upgrade,” Mr Wilson said.
“Many people living in cities may not be aware of the importance of these airstrips to people living in remote communities.”
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss said the funding was part of the Australian Government’s announcement in the 2015-16 Budget of $33.7 million over four years to fund upgrades for remote community airstrips across Australia.
“These airstrip upgrades ensure communities in O’Connor have continued access to essential health care services including emergency medical evacuations as well as improved access to work and education opportunities,” Mr Truss said.
“They will help connect residents in O’Connor through safe passenger air services and ensuring the delivery of essential goods and services.
“Given smaller aircraft often service these communities, simple measures such as providing a smooth runway or keeping wildlife away can make all the difference in a safe landing.”
For Mr Wilson: Monica O’Shea 0402 097 455
For Mr Truss: Brett Heffernan 0467 650 020