HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY                              TUESDAY 16 FEBRUARY                                  PAGE 3988 – 3989


The Hon. G.G. BROCK (Frome) (15:30): Today, I have the opportunity to talk about the Clare Valley Flying Group Incorporated. The Clare Valley Aerodrome is located 14 kilometres north of the township of Clare at 90 RM Williams Way. This airstrip was officially opened on 1 November 2014 by Richard de Crespigny, a Qantas QF32 pilot, and his father, Peter. The Clare Valley Aerodrome facility has been proudly developed by the Clare Valley Flying Group Incorporated, which is a community based and focused group and a not-for-profit organisation. This group is comprised of a committee of 16, and members from the Clare Valley, the Mid North and interstate come in and do all the work there voluntarily.

The founding chairman was Adrian Smith, who invited me, as the local member back in 2009 at the by-election, to their first meeting at the Sevenhill Hotel to discuss the opportunity to establish an airstrip at Farrell Flat at that particular time; however, it was eventually established in  the Clare Valley on RM Williams Way. I must admit that at that particular period of time I was not too sure of the area because I had not been there for a long time, being in Port Pirie and being the new member, so I had to question where Farrell Flat was. I found out where it was, and I did not think it was the right location. However, they decided to have it in the Clare Valley.

The Clare Valley Flying Group is very passionate about promoting all aeronautical activities of the aerodrome as well as promoting what the Clare Valley has to offer to all visitors. It is one of the very few privately owned aerodromes in South Australia. The funding history of this organisation is that, as the local member, having just been appointed at the by-election, in 2009 I was able to secure funding of $153,000, which was only stage 1 of the group’s vision of about seven stages.

The stage 2 vision was the sealing and lighting of the main runway, 17-35, which provided the Clare Valley and the surrounding areas with an all-weather 24-hour landing facility. This enabled commercial expansion and additional business, freight and tourism opportunities. In addition, it enabled the local RAAus flight training school, Spencer Gulf Training, and other organisations to provide continuity with an all-weather facility.

In November 2017, I wrote to the then Treasurer, Treasurer Koutsantonis of the Labor government, who conditionally supported my request for a state-matched contribution to the upgrade of the aerodrome to the value of $395,628. This was on the condition that the Clare Valley Flying Group seek the equal amount through the commonwealth Building Better Regions Fund. In December 2017, the group was unsuccessful in their application for a commonwealth grant. I then requested that this funding be banked by the state government for future successful applications through the federal government. The Treasurer at the time agreed to this; however, the change of government then occurred in March 2018. In June 2018, I wrote to the new state government Treasurer, Rob Lucas, to ask if they would honour the previous government’s commitment of a state-matched contribution of $395,628 for the upgrade of the aerodrome, which they agreed to do providing the club was successful in obtaining the commonwealth grant funding. The club was successful in doing so.

In March 2019, work commenced on the upgrade. The club now boasts, and rightly so, about having not only firefighting water tanks and associated equipment but also a very grand and impressive terminal and numerous hangars, together with a Victorian firm stationing their helicopters at the site. This very impressive facility has not only allowed for a great increase in tourism but just shows that if a group have the vision and they agree with it, then go for it, as this group have done. The business community of Clare and the surrounding areas has been really supportive of this group to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars of in-kind support and materials. The Clare and Gilbert Valleys Council have shown great leadership and vision in supporting this great venture.

They can see the opportunities for working together and creating opportunities not only for locals but also for tourism. I would estimate that the value of the whole lot would now be well in excess of $2 million, and I would not like to mention the number of businesses that have participated for fear of missing someone out.

In January 2021, the Clare Valley Flying Group was named the 2020 Aero Club of the Year in the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) Wings Awards. This award recognises the outstanding efforts of individuals and groups in Australian aviation. I must congratulate everybody involved with this, and there has been great perseverance. It has been a great honour to help them out with their vision and I congratulate everybody involved on getting this national award.