A re-elected Nationals Government will invest up to $12 million to upgrade airstrips and airports across western NSW and support air services to remote communities.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole, speaking from Bourke, said the state’s remote airstrips provide a lifeline to health, emergency services, and other key industries that was critical to keeping communities connected and local economies growing.
“These might not be the biggest airports in Australia but they play a big role in connecting communities across western NSW to services they need – from specialist trades that support business to supplies in times of disaster and emergency medical support,” Mr Toole said.
“That’s why we’ll invest $8 million to help ensure these airfields meet the needs of those communities now and for the future.”
Mr Toole said under the proposed program, the Department of Regional NSW would work with councils across 20 Local Government Areas to do an audit of the condition and certification of their airstrips and airports and understand current and future usage plans.
Eligible works would include grading of unsealed airstrips, upgrades to airstrip length and width, animal exclusion and safety fencing, lighting improvements, fuel service and terminal upgrades and the addition of new windsocks and markers.
“This funding will help ensure airfields meet minimum standards for security, safety and aircraft landing capacity, which is critical for community resilience during times of natural disaster and to support our regional economies,” Mr Toole said.
LGAs in the program will include: Balranald, Bogan, Bourke, Brewarrina, Broken Hill, Carrathool, Central Darling, Cobar, Coonamble, Edward River, Gilgandra, Hay, Lachlan, Murray River, Narromine, Walgett, Warren, Warrumbungle, Wentworth and the Unincorporated Far West.
Nationals’ Minister for Western NSW Dugald Saunders said a re-elected Nationals Government would also invest up to $4 million to support the costs of regular air services to Bourke, Cobar, Walgett, and Lightning Ridge for a further two years.
“In 2019, we partnered with the Far North West Joint Organisation to return commercial passenger air services to the skies of North West NSW. A re-elected Nationals Government will invest up to a further $4 million to support continued air services into these communities,” Mr Saunders said.
Bourke Mayor Barry Hollman said it is vital the community has a safe and secure airport they can rely on.
“Regional airports are vital for locals needing to access emergency specialist care and in times of natural disaster. This funding would make sure our airstrips and airport are fit-for-purpose, now and into the future,” Mr Hollman said.
“I am really glad the NSW Nationals have also committed to more funding to support the continuation of air services to the west.
“These services have helped better connect the North West with Dubbo and Sydney, allowing thousands of people to swap hours behind the wheel for a short hop on a plane. It’s not only making it easier for locals to get to Dubbo and Sydney but making it easier for tourists from all over NSW to explore this region.”