Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2006-2007
Consideration in Detail
14 June 2006
Transport and Regional Services
Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (6.12 p.m.)—Minister, I have three questions. Firstly, I draw your attention to Sydney airport and the plan for a 62,390 square metre retail centre and a car park for up to 3,145 vehicles and the massive objection by the state government, local government and community groups—indeed everyone but the owners of Sydney airport—to that plan that forced it to withdraw it and to indicate that it would submit a revised plan. The Sydney Morning Herald of 21 April says:
A spokesman for the minister, Warren Truss, said public consultation would be required only if the new plan was "fundamentally different" from the original.
Minister, I put it to you on behalf of my constituents that it is appropriate that there be a public consultation process after that revised plan is submitted and, if that does not occur, that there will be considerable outrage from the local community—from both residents and also businesses.
When you look at the location of Sydney airport, in the most densely populated area of Australia, I think one can see why the plan—which involved a $200 million shopping centre and a cinema complex—is regarded with some considerable objection by residents. Minister, I would ask that you give a commitment that there will be a public consultation process and that you will not simply rubber-stamp this plan.
My second question is this: is the minister aware that, in spite of the fact that there is a curfew at Sydney airport between 11 pm and 6 am, there are scheduled flights every day which breach that curfew, in particular between 5 am and 6 am, from Qantas, Singapore Airlines and airlines involved in long haul flights from LA and from London? Indeed, duty-free shopping at Sydney airport opens at 5 am, not at 6 am. Even duty-free shopping and Customs at the airport are open every day at a time when the public would expect that the curfew would be operating. As someone who lives under the flight path of Sydney airport I will declare an interest in asking this question of the minister. Can the minister look at that and confirm that that is the case and take action to ensure that, if legislative changes are required to make sure that the 11 pm to 6 am curfew is enforced, they will be taken?
My third question goes to the issue of noise amelioration for those around Sydney airport. In particular, I draw the minister’s attention to the plight of Fort Street High School, which is directly under the flight path at Taverners Hill. It is on high land a stone’s throw from the insulation zone—it is about 150 metres outside. Does the minister think it reasonable that young people’s education at that school is disrupted sometimes every 90 seconds as a result of flights going over? Will the minister take up my invitation, which I have given to him personally before, to come to that school to see for himself what the young people suffer in terms of the disruption to their educational attainment from the aircraft noise? Will the minister give consideration to taking action to ensure that this occurs, particularly given that there are no budget implications from it in that the money for noise amelioration comes from the airport noise levy, which is levied on every passenger?
Mr TRUSS (Wide Bay—Minister for Transport and Regional Services) (6.17 p.m.)—There are three basic questions. In relation to the proposal for commercial development on Sydney airport, let me say that since I have been the minister there have been no applications before me from Sydney airport for any kind of development. I am not aware that there are any about to come to my attention. However, if there were to be a proposal for a commercial development it would be subject to public consultation processes. There are prescribed periods and procedures laid down in the act that have to be followed in relation to public consultation, and I would expect those to be followed before an application was submitted to me for consideration, irrespective of the nature of the development.
I am not quite sure of the context of the remarks you attributed to my spokesman; I can only assume that somehow or other they have come out of context because in reality any master plan and any amendment to the master plan have to go through that kind of process. The only exception might be if something is already in the plan and therefore does not require any new approval process. Certainly a shopping centre or something of that nature would.
Some of the comments in relation to that proposed development brought out the worst of debate associated with these sorts of issues. I thought it outrageous for the New South Wales government, for instance, to suggest that a shopping centre would result in $2 billion worth of roadwork requirements. I expect again, and I follow on the comments I made to the member for Swan, that a development on an airport site should meet similar kinds of development conditions as would apply if it was across the road, and that would include road upgrades and the like. Those kinds of conditions have been imposed when shopping centre type developments have occurred in other airports around Australia. On the other hand, I would not expect that they should apply to a new freeway miles away, which seems to be the context of some of the remarks that were made at the time that development was being speculated about. I do not know that it ever got to a stage where it was seriously likely to come before me under the master planning arrangements.
Regarding the curfew at Sydney airport, I would again ask the honourable member if he could give me some names, dates, times and places. I would be more than happy to follow it up. The curfew applies, as he said, between 11 pm and 6 am—
Mr Albanese—QF2—every day.
Mr TRUSS—It is my understanding that scheduled services cannot arrive before 6 am. In an emergency, occasionally the curfew has to be broken, and from time to time there is a process whereby a special permit can be given to allow an aircraft to land, but, my word, that is exceptionally rare. It is not something that we would follow easily. My understanding is that some freighter aircraft, low-noise aircraft, are allowed to approach over the bay during certain times, but there should not be any scheduled services.
From time to time, I get letters from people who are upset about aircraft noise, and each of those instances is investigated. We usually send back to the constituent details about what happened on the particular day, including flight plans and paths for aircraft, so they can have an understanding of what has actually happened. I would be concerned about the issues raised by the honourable member and, if he could give me some names, dates, times and details, I will certainly follow it up.
The honourable member has raised Fort Street High School with me previously. I can appreciate that there are concerns about noise in areas where aircraft are operating. Obviously, new generation aircraft are much quieter than their predecessors. There are no marginally compliant aircraft operating in Australia anymore; they all meet the new standards. Essentially, we have a better environment now than there has been in the past. The honourable member, because he represents that area, would know even better than I that the insulation that has been provided was limited to areas where particular noise levels occurred, and the Fort Street High School does not fit within that category. It would be possible, as the honourable member suggests, to lower the criteria and then deal with all of the buildings that fit within the new criteria. That would require a substantial extension of the levy, which is getting close to the point where it will expire. Indeed, it may involve extensions for as long as 50 or 100 years. (Time expired)
Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (6.42 p.m.)—I refer to the previous contribution I made, and the minister’s response, regarding the curfew at Sydney airport, which exists between 11 pm and 6 am. The minister responded very genuinely, like most Australians would, by saying that when you have a curfew that means planes do not land or take off during that time. He thought it might be happening under exceptional circumstances. For the benefit of the minister, the Sydney airport website shows seven breaches of the curfew scheduled today. I assume that some of those are code share flights. Air France AF8096, through Paris and Singapore; British Airways BA7306, from Frankfurt and Singapore; and Qantas QF6, from Frankfurt and Singapore, were scheduled—I assume that is one flight—
Mr Truss—They are probably code share.
Mr ALBANESE—Yes. They were scheduled to land at 5.10 am and in fact landed at 5.13 am today. British Airways BA15, from London and Singapore, code share, I would assume, with Qantas QF320, was scheduled to land at 5.15 am. It landed at 5.20 am. Lufthansa LH9780 from Singapore—I assume also code shared with Singapore Airlines SQ221—was scheduled to land at 5.55 am. According to the website today it landed one minute earlier, at 5.54 am. I draw that to the minister’s attention, to give a concrete example. That is happening each and every day. The duty-free shop there is open every day at 5 am in order to accommodate that, as are Customs and Immigration facilities. It quite clearly is a breach. I ask the minister to look at how legislation can be changed to ensure that the curfew is a real curfew, not a Clayton’s one which is breached every single day.
Mr TRUSS (Wide Bay—Minister for Transport and Regional Services) (6.44 p.m.)—I have offered to take it on board.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.