Nov 4, 1996

Private Members’ Bill: Sydney Airport (Regulation of Movements) Bill 1996: First


4 November 1996

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (1.13 p.m.) —How appropriate it is that I am introducing the Sydney Airport (Regulation of Movements) Bill 1996 on 4 November, for it is two years to the day since the third runway was opened at Sydney. That opening led to a disaster for residents all around the airport, and I was elected to do something about it.

I am bringing this bill forward on behalf of my constituents, and the tens of thousands of other Sydney residents, who are tired of the uncertainty that clouds KSA. This bill would place a legislative limit on the number of aircraft movements during any one-hour period at Kingsford Smith airport. This bill fulfils a promise I made during the election campaign—that is, to introduce it regardless of who formed a government.

This bill sends a clear message to the people of Sydney: this parliament believes there is a limit to the capacity of Kingsford Smith airport. It also sends a clear message to those who oppose a second Sydney airport that this is not an option but a necessity. This clearly rebuffs those groups whose real agenda is to entrench Kingsford Smith airport as our only airport—an airport whose operations would destroy the lives of thousands of Sydney residents.

Kingsford Smith airport is growing at a rate of over nine per cent per annum. For residents under the flight path this is alarming. At the moment, there are over 280,000 aircraft movements through KSA. Already the noise levels are intolerable for many. The decision to allow take-offs to the north from runway 34R without an EIS has significantly increased the capacity of the airport.

There are serious proposals to increase the number of flights to over 350,000 per annum as well as a proposal for a fourth runway. In addition, a bizarre coalition of the Greens, the No Aircraft Noise Party, the aviation industry and members of the Howard government, including the member for Hughes (Mrs Vale), have formed the No Second Airport in Sydney Alliance.

The need for legislation is highlighted by the hostile response of the Tourism Council of Australia to my bill. Bruce Baird said:

Restricting the ability to lift the cap on movements at Sydney airport at peak times will be bad news for the tourism industry.

He went on to say that the capacity would not be enough for the Olympics. Well, let the Olympic planners be put on notice. This bill would send a clear message to those who would excessively increase the capacity at KSA to the detriment of thousands of Sydney residents.

In addition to the increased aircraft noise, there is increased traffic from the airport through streets that were not designed to take it. There is also air pollution. Following sightings by a number of Marrickville residents, Airservices Australia have confirmed that, at 12.59 p.m. on 15 October this year, a US registered Evergreen Airlines aircraft dumped fuel over Marrickville. This occurs when tanks are overfilled or aircraft suddenly change altitude—and residents suffer. Mr Deputy Speaker, my point is quite simple: more aircraft movements equal more noise and more air pollution and a greater chance of a minor or major disaster over the most densely populated area of Australia.

However, it has to be said that there are many in the community who would have expected this measure to have been brought into legislation by now. The government took only 10 days to direct Airservices Australia to re-open the east-west runway. It seems bizarre that we are here eight months later waiting for them to legislate on one of their other key election promises—a cap on aircraft movements.

Their election commitment was clear. Page 8 of Putting people first—the coalition’s policy on Sydney airport, of 29 January 1996, says:

The coalition will cap aircraft movements at 80 movements per hour by implementing a slot system.

It was with some disappointment that I read the response of the Minister for Transport and Regional Development (Mr Sharp) to this bill. I had hoped for a more positive response. Since then, I have had a productive discussion with the minister, and it has been agreed that I and the seconder of this bill, the member for Watson (Mr Leo McLeay), will meet with the minister within a week to discuss the government’s response. It should be positive, just as the response of the shadow minister and the Labor caucus has been.

I conclude by responding to those who say that it is not necessary to have this legislation. I want to quote someone who said last year during a similar debate on his private member’s bill:

It would make it the law of Australia, a law that could not be altered, except by another act of the parliament.

That was the then opposition leader, now Prime Minister, the member for Bennelong (Mr Howard).

Mr Deputy Speaker, the people of Sydney need the strength of legislation, not the whims of ministerial discretion, to provide certainty and some direction over the future of airport operations at KSA. I am pleased that my bill will be seconded by the member for Watson, who has an outstanding record, first as the member for Grayndler and then for Watson, in standing up for residents against the vagaries of noise. I strongly urge all members to support this bill. I present the explanatory memorandum to this bill. (Time expired)

Bill read a first time.