SYDNEY AIRPORT (REGULATION OF MOVEMENTS) BILL 1996: Second Reading
18 November 1996
Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (3.34 p.m.) —I move:
That the bill be now read a second time.
I am very pleased to be giving this second reading speech today. Since this bill was introduced, I have received support from a very broad cross-section of the community for the measures it proposes. That support has been bipartisan and includes the Sydney Airport Community Forum, which met last week and passed a motion calling for support for this bill or similar legislation. I am pleased to report that the motion was carried with only one dissenting vote cast by the aviation industry representative.
I have also received letters and telephone calls of support from many residents not just in my electorate but throughout Sydney and a number of councils affected by Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport, including Botany, North Sydney, Leichhardt, Marrickville and South Sydney. There is very broad support for this measure.
Today I received endorsement for this measure from none other than the Minister for Transport and Regional Development (Mr Sharp). This is a perfect example of the [start page 6958] minister playing the politics of catch-up. He put out two press releases today. The first is headed `Sydney airport aircraft movements cap to be legislated’, in which he said he would introduce government legislation to impose a cap of 80 aircraft movements per hour at Sydney airport. He said he would introduce his own legislation because `Mr Albanese’s private member’s bill has a number of technical flaws’. You would have expected the minister, with a whole department at his disposal, to have then gone on to outline those flaws. But he did not. Not one mention of a problem with this legislation.
What did the minister then do? He put out another press release deleting that sentence. So now, in the minister’s press release mark 2 headed `Legislation introduced for Sydney airport’ we have the minister foreshadowing government legislation in opposition to mine but without stating one single reason why, given that my bill covers all necessary technical legislation. There are no details in either of his press releases and, most importantly, no timetable for the introduction of that legislation.
Despite this, I can give a commitment on behalf of the opposition that we will support a government bill as long as it achieves the following objective: like my private member’s bill, it is a tight bill and not just a watered down version of the legislation which I have put before this House today—no maybes, no broad discretions, but a tight bill. No exemptions for VIPs and air force jets going in and out, no exemptions for the Olympics or special sporting events, but tight legislation.
If the government is fair dinkum and introduces legislation which I know and I acknowledge has the support of members on both sides of this chamber who represent electorates around Sydney airport, then we will in fact prove we are fair dinkum. We will not worry about who is moving the bill but prove that we are concerned with results.
If this bill were passed into law, it would draw a line in the sand for those who wish Sydney airport to grow to unsustainable limits. The aviation industry and some elements of the tourism lobby who say there should be no limit to the size of KSA are not in touch with reality. Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport is growing at a rate which far exceeds all previous expectations. Forecasts from the discredited draft EIS into the third runway predicted that movements would increase from 206,000 in 1988 to 340,000 in the year 2010—a growth rate of 2.3 per cent
In reality this growth has been much higher. From 1985 to 1994, the actual average growth in aircraft movements was 5.59 per cent. The most recent figures are even more concerning. In the six-month period from November 1995 to April 1996 aircraft movements grew by 9.6 per cent compared with the previous year average. The Bureau of Transport and Communications Economics working paper entitled Adequacy of transport infrastructure shared this view. The bureau suggested that KSA’s ultimate capacity of 353,000 movements per year could be reached as early as the year 2003. It is clear that Sydney airport does have a limit and that that limit is fast approaching.
Despite policies of sharing the noise, there is no doubt that thousands of residents in my electorate are still subjected to excessive aircraft noise. In fact, many hundreds of people in my electorate who sold their homes under the old flight path, at a massive loss, and moved to unaffected neighbouring areas are now being plagued with the noise that they paid dearly to escape. These people were presumably encouraged by the commitment of the Prime Minister (Mr Howard) that there will no new flights over the seat of Lowe, and many moved in that direction. John Howard was very clear about this commitment prior to the election. His press release dated 8 February 1996 stated that `there will be no new flight paths over Ashfield, Strathfield, Rhodes’ et cetera and that `Lowe will not be affected in the future’.
In light of the Prime Minister’s unequivocal commitments, it was interesting to receive at last week’s SACF meeting the maps of the 10 new modes of proposed operations for Sydney airport. There will be not one new flight path over Lowe but seven new flight paths over Lowe—four going out, three coming in. No wonder we are not prepared to take the press release of the Minister for Transport and [start page 6959] Regional Development at face value. We want to see the legislation introduced in this House.
The only problem with the SACF meeting was that no usage capacity figures were provided with the maps. In other words, members were told where the planes would go but not how often they would go there. We were told that the preferred mode was mode 4—over the waters of Botany Bay. I think Airservices Australia thought that would make us happy—`Trust us; we’re honest!’
But there is not a lot of faith in government or in governmental organisations regarding Sydney airport. When we were finally given the figures, we were told that this so-called preferred mode would operate only five to 10 per cent of the time. In fact, a conservative tally of the modes that would see movements over the north, east or west totalled 74 per cent. The modes that revert to the noisy parallel operations will be used 45 to 50 per cent of the time, and they deliver a capacity of over 87 movements per hour. Noise levels may have dropped in some areas, but they are destined to become significantly worse if nothing is done to restrain capacity and there is no second airport.
Time does not allow me to elaborate on the many other impacts that Sydney airport has on our area, including ground noise, air pollution and traffic congestion—not to mention the danger of a plane crash in Australia’s most densely populated area. These all lead to the same conclusion: in human and economic terms, we cannot afford Sydney airport to grow.
As I stated in my first reading speech, the commitment of the coalition to this measure is clear. Page 8 of Putting people first—the coalition’s policy on Sydney airport of 29 January states:
The coalition will cap aircraft movements at 80 movements per hour. . .
That commitment is clear and cannot be denied.
This bill cannot succeed without the construction of a second airport. I am totally committed, as is the opposition, to the construction of a second airport at Badgerys Creek. This is not a `nimby’ attitude. I am tired of those who say this debate is about inner city people wanting to dump their problems somewhere else. I challenge these people to go to Sydenham or Tempe or Marrickville and find me houses full of yuppies. They simply do not exist. My seat has a higher percentage of families with incomes below $16,000 and a lower average family income than either Prospect or Greenway.
In the Lindsay by-election there was a high-profile candidate called Kaye Vella, who ran a campaign against Badgerys Creek airport. Her campaign did not get off the ground. She could not garner any support, ran about seventh and could not get one per cent of the vote. It is clear that the longer we prevaricate on the actual construction of a second airport, the more desperate the situation will become. We need to build it, and we need to build it now.
I have outlined the reasons why this bill must be supported: a vote for this bill is a vote for a limit to noise at KSA; a vote for this bill is a vote for airline safety; a vote for this bill is a vote for better planning of our airport needs; a vote for this bill is a vote to ensure the government keeps its promises; a vote for this bill is a vote for certainty and security for the residents of Sydney. We await with anticipation the introduction of the government bill. We will not be withdrawing my legislation until such time as we have a chance to analyse that bill and to see how fair dinkum the minister is. Until that time, I urge all members to support my bill. (Time expired)
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.