Dear Mayor and councillors,
As a Dubbo resident and ratepayer I condemn your decision to screen all passengers on all flights at Dubbo Airport when only one flight a day requires it by law. I have enjoyed using Dubbo Airport in the past because check-in and boarding was quick and easy. I predominantly use REX and I think it is ridiculous to make us check in earlier and pay for a service that we don't need because of a decision made by another commercial airline concerning only 1/4 of its flights.
Further I condemn the mayor's ill informed and scaremongering comments about Dubbo planes flying into the Harbour Bridge' that he made in an effort to drum up support for the council's ridiculous policy. Not one person that I have spoken to in Dubbo or the surrounding areas supports security screening for smaller aircraft.
I think that it's entirely right that REX refuses to pay for the security screening. If the council forces REX to pull out of Dubbo, then QANTAS is going to have a monopoly and fares will triple, affecting business in in the whole region.
I urge you to change your policy immediately for the benefit of all passengers and residents of Dubbo and the surrounding areas.
Dear Dubbo Council,
I would like it noted that I oppose security screening for Rex passengers at Dubbo Airport.
With regard to corruption, I would also like make a request under the Freedom of Information Act 1989. Please be so kind as to advise me if any councillor or council employee has received free or subsidised QANTAS flights. I would also like to know if Dubbo Council has received any remuneration from QANTAS apart from that which they receive for airport usage charges; or if any councillor has received election campaign donations from QANTAS or any of its associates.
31 May 13
I am a computing consultant who works with the government secondary
schools in Dubbo and as part of that, fly into Dubbo two or three times
a year. As such, I do not know your role (e.g. mayor, General Manager
or councillor) in this process.
I have read with interest the campaign organised by REX to resist the
cost of the new screening for them.
To be honest, I am amazed that it has had to go on for so long. One of
the joys of flying into and out of Dubbo is that the traveller does not
have to go through the time wasting of the security process.
I accept that in larger places it may be a necessary evil (may!) but to
impose it when the government has deemed it unnecessary seems ludicrous.
The damage to Dubbo's reputation as a convenient place to fly into
would be difficult to estimate.
From an outsider's perspective, the decision to impose this
restriction on REX flights does not make sense and I commend to you
that you support a change.
31 May 13
I have liaised with parties on both sides of this matter, read all available literature and find the actions taken by the Dubbo City Council to be appalling behaviour. I can't imagine someone won't see sense and fix it.
30 May 13
Dear Dubbo City Councillors,
I have been following the debate on airport screening in Dubbo with great interest as the ability to access flights to Sydney at reasonable prices has a profound effect on quality of life in the Western Region where we live. We have first hand experience with airports where no competition exists (Tamworth Alice Springs, Armidale) and know that an airline monopoly results in exorbitant prices for flights most of the time. Try booking a last minute return flight to Alice Springs as an eye watering experience.
I have no doubt about the necessity of airport screening for international and interstate travel. However, the screening rules for aircraft on domestic routes are there for a reason and if law says that aircraft of the size Rex is using don't need screening, then until such time as Rex acquires the bigger planes their passengers don't need screening.
Visiting Dubbo airport recently, I was struck by the poor planning evident in the positioning of the screening corridors. Not only do Rex passengers not need screening, another third of the people entering the terminal don't need screening either; the family and friends accompanying airline passengers . Because public transport to Dubbo airport is non existent and many travellers come from areas west of the airport, and in a lot of cases a long way west, the percentage of people who are not airline passengers in the airport is much greater than in city airports. So in the café area of Dubbo airport, the only waiting area for departures you have, being screened at the moment are: the Rex passengers who don't need screening; the non travelling people who don't need screening and some Qantas passengers who do need screening. Probably three times the staff needed for Dubbo City Council to abide by the law are employed in screening. There are also some small inconveniences like the fact that if you are a visitor and have been through screening into the café area and you need to go to the toilet, then you have to go out the exit corridors, way up the other end of the terminal to the toilet and then back through screening again, when there was no good reason for you to be screened in the first place.
So what could Dubbo City Council do to rectify the injustice being accorded Rex passengers and inconvenience to visitors while still fulfilling their legal obligations? A simple solution would be to pick up the screening corridors and move them over to the area in front of Gate 2. You could make this the Qantas Gate so that all passengers boarding the larger planes would be screened as required by law.
In the meantime if the slots allotted to Dubbo at Sydney airport are allocated to other regional cities, it is likely that Dubbo will never get them back. The impact of reduced airline services into Dubbo affects not only Dubbo but the whole Western Region. It is fantasy to believe that another smaller carrier will survive in the long term as an alternative to Rex because if an additional carrier could make a profitable return in Dubbo they would already be there.
Let's see some leadership from Dubbo City Council- a willingness to admit that the present screening setup is both inconvenient and unnecessary (not to mention unjust to Rex passengers) and a willingness to seek a fair solution.
16 Mar 13
Response from Council:
Hi Pauline and thanks for your e-mail.
A few points I would like to mention in relation to your e-mail:
We certainly want competition at Dubbo Airport. We can neither make an airline leave or make an airline come to Dubbo – market force will dictate that.
Our Transport Security Plan – approved by the Office of Transport and Safety – requires that all passengers are screened. This therefore makes it the law for all passengers to be screened. This is the same situation as 6 other airports in Australia where Rex passengers are screened and Rex pays.
The screening as it exists at the moment is the first step to the airport expansion. At the moment, all people wanting to see friends off and all passengers must go through screening. This is similar to Sydney airport – all of the major shops and cafes are on the screened side at airports like Sydney.
There are toilets setup on the screened side so you don’t need to go back outside the secure area to go to the toilet and then go through screening again. When the expansion of the airport is complete, there will be toilets on the screened side.
The number of staff employed at the screening area is the number legally required. We put the screening operation out to tender and the winning contractor must comply with the legal requirements.
The solution in place is safest for the travelling public and the fairest solution to all. We believe in competitive neutrality – that is neither an advantage nor disadvantage in any decision we make. The current decision charges the two airlines on a pro rata basis the same amount. You can’t get any fairer.
Thanks again for your thoughts.
16 Mar 13
Thanks for your reply. A few comments on your points:
1. Council policy can certainly actively encourage or discourage airlines to operate in their regions. Not requiring payment from Rex passengers for unnecessary screening would have maintained Rex services to the city at a higher level than they now operate.
2. You could submit a Transport Security Plan that involves only screening passengers travelling on larger planes as required by law and it could be approved by the Office of Transport and Safety as other regional airports have done.
3. Sydney airport has waiting areas, cafes and toilets on the unscreened side. You are not forced to go through screening in order to wait with relatives or friends. It is not helpful to bring a comparison of Dubbo airport to Sydney airport into the discussion. They have significantly different functions and security requirements.
4. I take your point, it's just that these toilets aren't obvious because they are hidden by screening corridors.
5. If you only screened the Qantas passengers the numbers of people being screened would be reduced substantially. At the very least the hours screening staff would need to operate in the airport would be reduced.
6. Charging passengers on one airline for services only required on another is by no means fair.
Policies that adversely affect access to Sydney from Dubbo and the Western Region are not in the interests of Dubbo City Council or any of the population who live in the area. If other regional centres can find a way through this that maintains services, so can Dubbo City Council . We need to be looking at ways of reducing travel times between Dubbo and Sydney and encouraging more people to use air travel, not reducing the services we have had in the past.
Being able to admit that a policy has been a mistake takes courage, as does taking the steps necessary to remedy the situation. I hope you and your councillors can find that courage.
17 Mar 13
Response from Council:
I disagree on two counts.
Firstly, Rex has falling passenger numbers. They have lost 24.8 per cent of their passengers over the last two years. Their average passenger numbers through February sat around 13 people per flight. The one return service per day they are removing had very poor numbers. It would appear as though Rex simply made a commercial decision.
I agree that we can encourage businesses but I don’t believe we should be subsidising the costs of a business. Remember that the Singaporean Chairman issued a media release last year boasting that the $35.1M profit they made last year made Rex THE most profitable airline in the country. I don’t think the ratepayers of Dubbo should be financially supporting a profitable business venture such as this.
You are correct. We haven’t. We have submitted a plan that says all passengers will be screened and that has been approved. This is the same as 6 other airports.
Dubbo is not large enough to have 2 cafes – one unscreened and one screened. Look at the number of shops and cafes on the screened side of Sydney compared to the unscreened. The passengers must go through screening so it makes sense for the café to be in the screened side.
The toilets are only temporary at this stage but there will be permanent toilets in the terminal extension.
The number of people being screened would reduce but we are not being charged for the number of people being screened. We are being charged for the overall operation of the equipment.
It seems ridiculous to have a piece of equipment worth $632K sitting in the terminal that is designed to make air travel safer for all - and then bypass it for one airline. Screening and charging all passengers is the only fair solution.
Screening is a fact of life in our modern world. We may not like it but 9/11 proved that the world lost its innocence in regard to air travel. We can either keep our heads buried or make our airport safer.
I see that this will decrease travel times and increase services. We have already seen that the new Q400 reduces travel between Dubbo and Sydney by ~10-15 minutes and we have seen an increase in the number of available seats between Dubbo and Sydney of 45,000 (Rex decrease of ~15,000 has been more than offset by a Qantaslink increase of ~60,000) so at this stage we have decreased travel times and increased services. So far so good!
If the numbers you quote on Rex passengers are accurate, adding the cost of screening to Qantas tickets and not Rex might level the playing field a little. There is value in competition and I repeat one of my initial comments – try booking a last minute return flight to Alice Springs to see the effect of lack of competition.
9/11 was used as justification for the American invasion of Afghanistan as well and that didn't turn out to be a good idea. The world has never been innocent. Screening everybody in the airport does not make Dubbo airport somehow more sophisticated or even more safe as all those positive results for fertiliser or even explosives have to be ignored because, surprise surprise, many people are farmers and work with fertiliser or some work in mines and have contact with explosives.
The bottom line seems to be that Dubbo City Council does not value competition and that they have a brand new piece of $632 000 screening equipment they are itching to use….. on anybody.
Those slots at Sydney airport will be allocated to other regional centres. The airline passengers in Dubbo will pay more for their tickets and have reduced services.
You seem to have taken a position and are unwilling to change so I think we can agree to disagree and time will be the judge.
18 Mar 13
Response from Council:
I am not sure what you mean by “if the numbers you quote on Rex passengers are accurate”? I don’t make up numbers to suit an argument – I use data to make decisions. Of course these numbers are accurate.
So if I understand your logic correctly, when Rex had more passengers than QantasLink (which was only a few years ago) then we should have been charging Rex more for landing fees to even up the field a little and let QantasLink catch up?
I don’t see the role of Council to even up the competition – we need to treat all competitors fairly and their business practices and the market will decide who wins the competitive battle. Creating an uneven playing field would be a very bad move by a Council.
My submission to Dubbo City Council:
Lack of airline competition at Dubbo airport affects the whole western region. Rex has provided the only competition at Dubbo airport over many years. It is unfair for Rex passengers or Rex to pay for screening that is only required by law on some qantas flights. Dubbo city council needs to move the screening corridor to gate one and make this the gate for passengers requiring screening .
30 May 13
I am a small business owner whom has recently won a contract to supply IT services to regional branches of a NSW Government Department.
I am presently looking for a location to establish an office and Dubbo would be ideal considering its relatively central location within the state and the soon to be established access to the NBN network.
My only knowledge of the council’s actions have been your decision to needlessly require Rex travelers to be security screened. If this decision is a typical indication of the thought processes of the councilors of Dubbo I will be seriously reconsidering establishing a base here.
29 May 13
Opposing DUBBO AIRPORT SECURITY SCREENING CHARGES for REX customers who do not require screening.
27 May 13
I am happy to add my support to Rex’s concerns about the imposition of an additional fee on Rex passengers to help c over the screening costs for Qantas passengers. If Qantas chooses to operate aircraft large enough to warrant screening why should Rex passengers have an additional fee imposed on them when they are not required to be screened to travel on a Rex aircraft. Is council planning to impose fees on general aviation charter passengers or other users of the airport e.g. RFDS or Air Ambulance
In reality screening is about governments being seen to respond to perceived security threats – I have always been of the view that a determined terrorist could easily attack crew after coming aboard with legal items such as a bottle of wine. However my concern is about user pays – Rex don’t need to use they should not have to pay. Dubbo imposes water fees on the basis of use why not screening fees
PS happy with your re election and the job you are doing as mayor – good spot with 2DU of a morning maybe you can comment on this issue
I recently emailed the Mayor on this issue and raised my concerns about the decision you have taken unanimously to require Rex passengers to be screened when screening commences for Qantas Link passengers. Councillor Dickerson you will be pleased and not surprised to learn did a good job in sticking to the unanimous position you have taken on this matter. Great to see Dubbo council can unite on an issue – pity you are all wrong, as one supporter of Rex has already indicated being unanimous doesn’t make the decision correct.
I am a little annoyed that Councillor Dickerson has to resort to a highly emotive position when he states “I don’t want to be the Mayor of Dubbo when an aircraft out of Dubbo is used to fly into the Opera House” or words to that effect on 2DU this morning. That event is possible but highly unlikely and of course has not happened while we have had more than 10 years of unscreened flights out of Dubbo since the September 11th attacks and the Bali bombings. I find it interesting that your counterparts in Wagga Wagga and Albury can sleep at night not worrying that unscreened Rex Flights may be targeted to launch an attack on the Opera House. They can organise for Qantas passengers to be screened when necessary. Is this too hard for Dubbo?
I believe screening for both Qantas and Rex is unnecessary however if Qantas is required to have it, and they are, they should pay for the full cost of screening and Rex should not be involved. I use both Qantas and Rex and will continue to do so – screening would not determine which flight I use.
If council wants to screen all passengers out of Dubbo perhaps the cost should be paid for by all Dubbo residents from general rates. I can hear the objections now the user should pay – why should little old ladies in North Dubbo who never fly have a rate increase. Councillor Shields could go to town on this issue as someone opposed to rate increases. Of course I am happy to pay rates to support the Apex Oval redevelopment and lots of other things in Dubbo that I don’t use – that’s how tax and rate collection works – we share the burden or in some instances the model is tweaked by “user pays” e.g. water consumption charges.
Assuming that council will not pay for 100% screening out of general rates then we come back to an argument that the user should pay. The required user is Qantas passengers when Qantas operates a larger aircraft and they should be the ones paying for screening.
Councillor Dickerson also said “having screening and not having it used by all is like having a seat belt and not wearing it” There are all sorts of screening and safety devices available that we do not use because the risk is not high enough to warrant the action. Wearing a seat belt is a great idea because the risk of needing it is much higher than a terrorist attack on a Rex aircraft. Walking down the street wearing a motor bike helmet could prevent head injuries if you fall over. We don’t do it because the risk is very low.
I urge you to re –think this issue and join with the sensible position taken in Albury and Wagga Wagga where the user pays for screening that is required by the Federal Government and other passengers are not charged
Response from Council:
Thanks for your further comments.
I am sure that the residents of New York thought that planes would never fly into their Twin Towers. For us to say that it won’t happen to us is naïve at best. If we have the security facilities, it makes logical sense to use them for all passengers.
You will note I didn’t say it will not happen I said the risk is very low – That is the reality, it is a very low risk that a terrorist attack will be launched from Dubbo in either a screened or unscreened aircraft - The Federal Government thinks that there is a higher risk that a larger aircraft could be used and so they are screening those aircraft. I believe that if screening was necessary the Feds would require it for all commercial passenger aircraft operating in Australia. There clearly needs to be a balance of risk against cost. There is a chance Dubbo could be hit by a meteor but we don’t lose sleep over it because it is a very low risk. Yes terrorists could target Rex, they could target the XPT for that matter ( they have attacked trains in London and Spain) but it is all very low risk probability.
Why do Wagga Wagga and Albury not screen Rex passengers presumably they don’t see the same risk as the DCC members.
Thank you to Councilor Mathew Dickerson for replying to my email regarding this issue. I don’t agree with his analysis but I do appreciate that he did respond. Also I should note Councilor Shields did respond all be it rather strangely- I quote
Leave me out of your mass emails especially when you raise issues that have nothing to do with the current matter at hand.
Any personal issues you have with me should remain personal.
Using this as an avenue to simply have a dig at me in mass email shows a lack of form.
With great respects.
At least it is a response and I thank Councilor Shields for taking the trouble to respond. I would point out I have no personal issues with Councilor Shields – I have plenty of concerns about positions he takes on council however on this occasion he is certainly not part of minority faction.
I note that the other 7 councilors have not replied – perhaps you agree with Councilor Shields that you shouldn’t be being bothered by the ratepayers and the electorate sending you emails. I believe it is reasonable to expect a reply on this matter from each of you and in fact I would hope that several of you would be looking to rescind this decision.
Despite Councilor Dickerson’s view that Rex has had a poor response I believe that the response is excellent – for every person who is emailing there will be many others who will not be happy with Council’s position and not have bothered to email. I note no-one other than council is supporting this position. It would seem there is no general feeling in the community saying “Yes let’s have screening for all passengers” if there was I’m sure we would be hearing and reading about it in the local media.
I believe the message is loud, clear and obvious – you have made the wrong decision and you need to change it.
Response from Council:
As I said earlier Jim,
Leave your personal issues with me personal. You have been digging at me for years and frankly I'm sick of it.
Fine if you have a problem with the airport issue at the moment but to continually attack me for being nothing more than a conservative shows lack of form. This is not the issue to play one up man ship in a screwed up ideological divide that you imagine exists.
This is the third mass email now from you that I have been singled out and I henceforth demand it ceases.
Hello Councilor Shields
Yes I have included you in emails sent to all council members. This is not a mass email or spam it is an email to elected representatives on Dubbo City Council. As I have already indicated I am perfectly entitled to send you polite emails as a member of council. I have suggested to you that if you do not want emails as a councilor on DCC you should not be in the role.
I must point out to you that we have never formally or informally met, I have never before communicated with you by email, letter or phone. At no time have I commented on you in the press or at meetings. I have no idea why you would say I have been “digging at you for years” . Given that we have not ever had any contact I can only assume you are confusing me with someone else.
I am not interest in discussing ideological differences with you or what you imagine my political views or philosophy may be. You have been elected in a democratic process that I support along with your 8 colleagues. As part of the process you must expect to deal with the electorate, You will have supporters and detractors. At the moment I am of the view that you and your colleagues are all wrong in the decision you have taken. I am pursuing this matter with all councilors because I believe you have made the wrong decision.
I have singled you out for thanks as you have actually responded – once again thank you for responding – I wish to also point out and thank Councilor Reynolds for replying and of course Councilor Dickerson has been most thorough in his responses.
Your other 5 colleagues have at this stage not responded.
I have no desire to continue exchanging emails on this matter but of course would welcome your apology regarding your confusion over my identity and suggestion that I am making some sort of ideological attack on you. In addition I believe you should acknowledge that it is part of your role to accept polite emails sent to you as individual councilor or sent to you and your colleagues as a group email
I wish to comment on DCC's operational plan 2013-2014 section 5.2 which refers to full cost recovery of contractors charges. I believe this in fact means DCC intends to keep charging Rex (thus Rex passengers) to be security screened at DCC's airport facility. I urge councillors to amend this section so that Rex and other passengers that are not travelling on aircraft that fall under the Commonwealth's mandatory screening protocol are not charged for screening.
Screening can still occur or not whichever is the most practical but only the airline which needs to be screened should be charged. There is no legal requirement to screen passengers travelling on aircraft that are not included in the Commonwealth’s screening protocol i.e. aircraft under 20 tonnes.
The position taken to date by council lacks logic and does not appear to based on any formal credible advise from security experts. Rather council’s position seems to be based in emotion and near hysteria. Comments from the Mayor like “I don’t want to be the Mayor when a Dubbo plane hits the Harbour Bridge” are emotive but in reality display a lack of ability to put forward a logical case – such logic I believe would involve an assessment that there is a real risk using some sort of external expert advice e.g. ASIO, AFP or some other Commonwealth authority. Clearly this advice does not exist.
In addition I am most concerned that the action of DCC is exposing the rate payers of Dubbo to a potentially expensive legal case that in my view Rex should win. If this happens I can only assume that all 11 councillors will resign and happily accept that they are not competent to run Dubbo. Clearly this matter has been openly and extensively debated so not even a plea of ignorance could be used in an attempt to protect their position. At a minimum the Mayor should resign as the leader of the council during this period.
Of course another and better way forward is to accept the initial decision as wrong and revoke it and thus accept that Dubbo like numerous other regional centres will not charge Rex because decisions by Qantas have caused screening to occur for Qantas planes.
27 May 13
I object to and I am voicing my protest at the extra charges to Rex Airlines which Dubbo City Council intends to impose. Although I have only had occasion to fly to Dubbo once with REX, it seems that by introducing such a charge at Dubbo airport, it will mean that it is only a matter of time that such additional charges and screening will be imposed on other provincial airports by other Councils. My usual airport for REX flights is Lismore.
It is already made difficult for the smaller provincial airports to maintain a service for its residents and former residents who return for family or other reasons to visit.
Such charges should be applied ONLY to those airlines who are required to comply with the obligation and not REX which is “umbrellaed” under such a requirement simply because this airline provides a service to the same airport.
Already an airline such as REX has significant hurdles in competing with Qantas link, Virgin and Jetstar which have more profitable routes, larger planes and therefore, can benefit from economies of scale which benefits are not available to REX to the same, or anywhere near a similar extent.
26 May 13
Dear City of Dubbo
I’m a Sydney business owner with interests in Dubbo. I can only express my disappointment on your decision despite the facts to impose your screening tax on Rex passengers flying from Sydney to Dubbo.
This is not a good look for the City of Dubbo. your actions in the interests of safety and security, have opened the gates for QANTAS to create a monopoly on all regional centre. The situation is not sustainable and will negatively impact your community in the long term. If it was in the interests of safety and security it would be in the regulations. Fairness and equity…it is neither fair or equitable, we choose to fly Rex to support a regional airline which often flies us to the remote places that Qantas would not sustain, It is in fact unfair to impose an unnecessary screening process, and the subsequent levy on Rex passengers."
25 May 13
I have supported your appeal and explained my situation of regularly attending meetings in Sydney, using your airline by choice (as a local, well run business) and urging reconsideration of the imposition of additional charges due to the screening process required for Qantaslink compliance, at Dubbo Airport.
25 May 13