Jun 28, 2012

Question Without Notice – Regional Aviation Access to Sydney Airport

Mr WINDSOR (New England) (14:33):  My question is to the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport. Could the minister clarify confusion that seems to exist in relation to the Sydney Airport Demand Management Act 1997, as amended in 2001. Does the legislation ensure access for regional flights via regional slots during high-demand times? Does the legislation guarantee that the minimum aircraft size for access to these slots is 19 seats? Does the Joint study on aviation capacity for the Sydney region make any recommendations to change this legislation for all current regional services?

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (14:34):  I thank the member for New England for his question. I can get a question from outside of the chamber; it is just that it is always from the crossbenches.

The member for New England has indeed made strong representation, as have other crossbench members from regional communities, to ensure that there is continued access for regional services into Kingsford Smith airport. That is absolutely vital and it is critical when that access is there. It is critical that it be during peak periods so that people in rural communities, be they from Tamworth, Port Macquarie or Armadale, can get access into Sydney in the morning, do work and get home in the evening. This government is absolutely committed to making sure that that is the case.

The slots used by regional airlines for intra-state services at Sydney airport are protected under the Slot Management Scheme. Regional airlines currently hold about one-quarter of the slots between 7 am and 9 am. These airlines use smaller aircraft, such as the 34-seater Saab 340s, and the 30-seater BAe Jetstream J41s through Brindabella.

There will be no change to that under this government, because it is absolutely vital that regional services continue to have that protection. I know that there are members of the other side, including the member for North Sydney, who understands how important this is. But, what we know is that if the services are going to grow we do need a second airport for Sydney. Unless we have that, the pressure will continue to be on.

We know that Sydney airport is full, but there is some support across the parliament for a second airport. The real concern is those people who do not support a second airport, be they the owners of Sydney Airport or those supporters of Max Moore-Wilton, who do his bidding, who think that that is more important than access in terms of regional communities.

The Leader of the National Party had this to say on ABC Illawarra on 16 April. He said two things. One, we want larger aircraft in. Secondly, that the extension of KSA “can be achieved through better use of neighbouring airports in places like Bankstown.”

They will not be A380s going into Bankstown; they will be smaller aircraft, which is what some of his plan is. That is what Sydney Airport would like to do. Under this government it will not occur, but the National Party need to make very clear to people in regional communities why it is that they will stand up for the owners of Sydney Airport and not stand up for their interests—(Time expired)