Mr O'Sullivan (Northern Victoria) — My matter tonight is for the Premier in the absence of a minister for aviation — but if there is a minister for aviation, I am happy for it to go to that minister. The action I am seeking is that the government not have a knee-jerk reaction and look to close Essendon Airport as a result of the tragedy that happened yesterday at the airport. We feel very sorry for all the families and people involved with that incident, but we must remember that air travel is one of the safest forms of transport you can have. This is an isolated incident; there has not been one at that airport for quite a long time.
Essendon Airport provides a critical piece of infrastructure for regional Victoria and houses a lot of essential services that regional Victorians use, such as the air ambulance, the Royal Flying Doctor Service, the police air wing and the air crane helicopters that are used for firefighting purposes, as well as the charter flights that operate out of Essendon Airport and fly to parts of regional Victoria plus other areas as well. This is a vital piece of infrastructure for regional Victoria.
I know this because I had the misfortune of breaking my leg quite badly about four years ago, and I needed the air ambulance service to get me from Mildura down to Melbourne so I could undergo surgery. I understand the importance of what the air ambulance provides in terms of services. I was fortunate that I was not in an emergency situation, but I still required transport from Mildura to Melbourne and that was something that could not have been done by road. I required the air ambulance to get down to Melbourne to undergo the surgery I needed, so I know firsthand the value and the importance of such services, which are relied on by regional Victorians. Essendon Airport is the fundamental base for those services.
That is why for regional people it is very important that Essendon Airport stay open. The action I am seeking is for the Premier to give a commitment to all regional Victorians that Essendon Airport will continue to operate as an airport and as an important piece of infrastructure providing the services that are so greatly needed by regional Victorians.