New South Wales shadow treasurer Walt Secord advocated for an upgrade to Tumut Airport in the NSW Parliament’s Legislative Council on Wednesday.
Mr Secord and other Labor politicians visited the airport as part of their visit to the Snowy Valleys region on February 11 to hear first hand the case to upgrade the Tumut aerodrome.
“We met with RFS officials who briefed us on how it was inadequate for the bushfire emergency,” Mr Secord said in parliament.
“Due to the length and the lack of reinforcements to the runway, aircraft were unable to carry their full capacity of water to fight the surrounding fires.
“A senior RFS official at the airport advised that if the airport had been upgraded properly they would have been able to save more homes and property.
“After the briefing we reached the firm conclusion that the Federal Government should provide immediate support to improve the aerodrome.”
State labor has written to the Deputy Prime Minister in his capacity as Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, urging the federal government to fully fund the project, estimated to cost $10.2m.
The improvements include additional sealed taxiways and a lengthening of the runway, animal-proof fencing, improved lighting, drainage improvement works and a bridge over a creek.
“Last year I and other members spoke in this Chamber of the need to both pray for rain and plan for all possibilities,” Mr Secord said. “Mercifully – whether you believe it is the mercy of God or of nature itself – rain has since reduced our immediate fire threat, but we would be foolish in the extreme to think that what we have seen this summer cannot, or will not, happen again.
“Indeed, all evidence suggests the contrary. Bushfire seasons are getting longer, hotter and drier, and the people of Tumut and the Snowy Valleys Council deserve to have the best means to protect themselves in the event of future disasters.”