With the federal election now less than a month away, the promises and interest in matters aviation belies the relative indifference shown by the incumbent government and the opposition during the last parliamentary term – and indeed before that.
Discussions about Sydney being prominent in the pre-election rhetoric, Hobart Airport is now on a promise from the Coalition’s Tony Abbott, pledging to lengthen the airport’s runway and further improve infrastructure.
“If elected, the Coalition will invest $38 million to increase the length of the runway at Hobart International Airport and associated works,” Abbott said.
The plan includes the extension of the runway by 500m, obviating payload restrictions and opening up opportunities for larger capacity aircraft.
“Our expectation is that the airport will enter into commercial negotiations with international airlines, charter companies and research providers to ensure that the investment provides value for taxpayers.
The interest in Hobart is an economic one. It – rightly – sees the airport as an economic stimulator, creating jobs, inward investment and inbound tourism which Tasmania needs desperately.
Interestingly, one of the goals is for Hobart to become the primary gateway to the Antarctic, competing with the established base at Christchurch.
“This project will strengthen the Tasmanian economy by allowing for the growth of new Australian businesses specialising in Antarctic station support including equipment, maintenance, medical, construction, and research,” Abbott said.
“The Coalition will work with the Hobart International Airport to help make this project a reality. The airport will contribute $2 million to the project.
Abbott’s recognition of the airport’s role in the economy marks somewhat of a watershed for contemporary politics – especially if the promise is kept.