Jun 18, 2018

Private Members’ Business – Perth Airport

Federation Chamber

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (12:32): I’m pleased to have to opportunity to address the issues raised by the member for Swan, who clearly doesn’t understand the way that aviation legislation works in this country. The first part of the motion before the parliament is:

That this House:

… notes the recent decision of the Western Australia Government to grant approval for a third runway at Perth Airport …

It’s actually the federal government that is responsible for approving airport related activities under Commonwealth legislation—both the Airports Act 1996, as amended, and the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. The member for Swan is part of the federal government, and he’s trying to walk away from the responsibility it has for legislation and its impact. The decision as to whether the new runway is built rests entirely with the Commonwealth government. Before Perth Airport can proceed with any significant development on what is Commonwealth land—it’s Commonwealth land—it must first prepare a major development plan and submit it to the Commonwealth Minister for Infrastructure and Transport for approval.

Perth Airport released an MDP for the proposed new runway on 31 May, for 60 business days of public comment. The consultation process will close on 24 August. Subject to actual demand and airline commercial agreements, the runway is likely to open at some point between 2023 and 2028, after four years of construction. As required by the reforms put in place by the former Labor government, the MDP contains a draft airspace management plan which shows indicative flight paths. Before the aviation white paper and our amendments, this didn’t even occur. The final design of the flight paths will be consistent with the approved major development plan. The work will be finalised by Airservices in the three years leading up to the opening of the runway. What then happens, as a result of our legislation, is that every five years there’s a review of every airport’s flight paths and environmental impact, with community consultation, including the community consultation groups that were established by legislation introduced by me as the minister. That’s why those processes have taken place—just like the noise amelioration plans under legislation of the Howard government, which have defined categories for either acquisition or noise insulation, that are applied to every airport around the country. So there’s automatic insulation for homes, once a certain noise level is given, and there’s acquisition of homes once a noise level is given.

I certainly understand there’s a need to balance the needs of the aviation sector with the rights of local communities that live around our airports. Airports are not islands, and that’s why we had the national aviation white paper, the first ever. Of the 34 recommendations, many of them went to improving community consultation and the oversight of airport developments. The former government had brickworks and all sorts of activities going on at Perth Airport, rather than prioritising aviation activity at the airport that is so important for the Perth economy.

One of the reforms we put in place was to prohibit developments incompatible with aviation use on federal airport sites unless exceptional circumstances exist. We obligated federal airports to submit more detailed master plans. We introduced the major development plan trigger that will be activated by any development with a significant community impact, regardless of size or cost.

Previously, when I became the minister, I remember going to Melbourne Airport and they had a whole new operation opening that hadn’t been through any consultation process because they managed to break it up into smaller projects so it didn’t meet the trigger. What we did was ensure that community consultation will take place just like we ensured that we established the Aircraft Noise Ombudsman and outlawed older, noisier aircraft flying to major Australian airports. Chapter 2 aircraft had continued to fly willy-nilly over residential communities before we took action.