|Sector urges pollies to pay more attention
- by: Steve Creedy, Aviation writer
- From: The Australian
- April 05, 2013 12:00AM
POLITICIANS have been urged not to take the aviation sector for granted during the federal election campaign and to heed its key contribution to the economy.
Aviation policy was a low priority for political parties in the 2010 federal election, but industry figures hope the lengthy run-up to the September poll will see it given greater consideration.
Aviation-Aerospace Australia chief executive Jim Carden said the Australian industry faced a time of structural transformation and could not be ignored.
“Australia is at the doorstep of the fastest growing region for aviation, and we go head to head with rising ASEAN nations that are rapidly building the capability and capacity to do what was once the domain of a strong and proud Australian industry,” he said.
“As we move towards the election, it behoves our national leaders to reflect on this transformational period for our industry, where we can no longer take for granted an indigenous manufacturing industry, where we effectively only produce one locally made aircraft, where our local manufacturers are having to re-locate or partner offshore, where Australian airlines are being driven by competitive forces to maintain their aircraft elsewhere, and where our prohibitively high labour and business costs are making the sector a threatened species.”
He pointed to an Oxford Economics report commissioned by the Air Transport Action Group, with which the AA-A has signed a memo of co-operation about Asia-Pacific issues, outlining the economic benefits from air transport in Australia.
According to the report, based on 2009 data, the aviation sector contributed $32 billion to gross domestic product, about 2.9 per cent of the total.
This included $13.5bn directly contributed by sectors such as airlines, airports and ground services as well as an $11bn indirect contribution through the industry’s supply chain. A further $7.4bn comes from employee spending.
Another $43.7m was in “catalytic” benefits through tourism, raising the industry’s total contribution to $75.6m or 6.1 per cent of GDP.
The report found the industry employed 149,000 people directly, supported an additional 97,000 jobs through its supply chain and another 86,000 through employee spending. Catalytic (tourism) effects captured 495,000 jobs.
Aviation jobs were about 1.8 times more productive than the average in Australia and the sector contributed $3.2bn in tax, including income tax, annually. A further $1.7bn came from departure taxes.
The report estimated an extra $2.6bn of government revenue was raised by the industry’s supply chain and $1.8bn through employee spending.
Consumer benefits ranged from visiting family and friends to high-value shipping, with shippers paying $4.1bn to carry more than 700,000 tonnes annually to, from and within Australia.
It also found the industry enabled long-term economic growth by opening up foreign markets, lowering transport costs, increasing the flexibility of labour supply, raising productivity and encouraging Australian businesses to specialise in areas that played to the economy’s strengths.