Sunday, June 23, 2024

Wagga urges residents to keep up the fight to secure airport

Wagga Wagga City Council is urging local residents to keep their submissions coming in support of the ongoing efforts to secure the future of Wagga Wagga Airport.

The Council’s 30-year lease of the airport from the Commonwealth Department of Defence was due to expire in June 2025. However, it was recently announced that Defence has put a decision about the lease on hold until 30 June 2026.

Council is pleading with local and surrounding communities to keep their submissions coming in support of the fight to secure the future of the airport, which it says provides a vital connection for families, individuals, businesses, education and health services, aviation training and maintenance, and general aviation.

Mayor, Dallas Tout said he welcomed the additional time for Council to prepare its case to secure a new and improved long-term lease of the airport.

“The extra 12 months is a positive development for Council as it shows the Minister for Defence is listening to the community’s and our voices on the future of the Wagga Wagga Airport,” Mayor Tout said.

“However, the community and wider region should not take this as a signal to take a step back from the fight to secure a new lease.

“Council remains concerned Defence will still pursue the option to privatise the airport through a commercial lease, which we believe will have major impacts on the community by pushing up costs of air travel and creating another barrier for people in the region.

“It is vital that residents, stakeholders, and businesses get involved now and show their support by making a submission through our advocacy campaign.

The airport plays a critical role for health services with, on average, between two to seven flights per day for medical evacuations, and 700-750 patient transfers a year at our airport.

“The need for community support is as strong as ever and time is of the essence!”

Following suggestions from the community, Council has also launched a petition to fight for our airport’s future. The petition can be signed at the display in the foyer of the Civic Centre.

All the feedback received will form a key part of Council’s advocacy case as it is developed over the coming months.

Executive Manager Regional Activation, Christine Priest said Council is currently forming a working group with other stakeholders from the education, health, business, emergency services, aviation and government sectors, who are also strongly in support of the lease with Council being renewed.

“It is crucial to have this broad support from our local and regional communities as we develop strategy and plan for what to do in terms of lobbying the Federal Government and Defence going forward,” Ms Priest said.

Feedback and support can be submitted online at haveyoursay.wagga.nsw.gov.au.

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