• A Beech Baron arrives at very remote Birdsville Airport in Queensland. (Steve Hitchen)
    A Beech Baron arrives at very remote Birdsville Airport in Queensland. (Steve Hitchen)

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Michael McCormack yesterday opened the sixth round of the Remote Airstrip Upgrade Program (RAUP).

RAUP provides federal government funding for airfields that are located in, or service, areas of Australia considered remote or very remote by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

“It is important for all communities to have great transport links and even more so in our remote areas where local airstrips are crucial pieces of community infrastructure,” McCormack said.

“For many Australians living in remote communities, airstrips are needed to get essential supplies, mail deliveries and potentially lifesaving medical services, as well as connect with education and employment opportunities and travel long distances."

The government has committed $28.3 million in grants for this round of the RAUP.

Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister Andrew Broad said 31 projects had been approved for funding in the previous round.

“Last round we invested more than $500,000 to improve drainage and sealing at Camooweal in Queensland, $225,000 to re-sheet and regrade the runway at Bulla Camp in the Northern Territory and $55,000 to repair fences at the Flinders Island aerodrome in Tasmania, to name just a few,” he said.

“These kinds of projects benefit thousands of Australians living in remote communities and surrounding regions, whether through job creation, more reliable transport access or improved service delivery.

“I encourage all owners and operators of remote community airstrips who can see a real need for an upgrade to apply under Round 6.”

The announcement was welcomed by the Royal Flying Doctor Service, which stands to benefit largely from the grants, with CEO Martin Laverty saying that the RFDS remote health service couldn't operate without this funding being available.

The remotemess classification system is such that most areas in or around Australia's "J curve" are considered Outer Regional at most, which removes them from eligibility for the RAUP.

More information is on the Australian government's business website.

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