Subjects: Labor’s plan to protect communities from night time aircraft noise at Badgerys Creek
PRESENTER: Anthony Albanese is the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport.
He represents that inner city area but we had a question, didn’t we, about the history of the curfew at Sydney Airport.
Has there always been a curfew there? He might be able to answer it. Anthony Albanese, good morning.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning.
PRESENTER: Mr Albanese, thanks for joining us. Do you know the history of the curfew at Sydney Airport?
ALBANESE: I do. There has been at least a partial curfew there since the 1950s.
There were restrictions brought in on night time flights and then a curfew between 11pm and 6am was legislated by the former Hawke-Keating Labor Government in around about from memory, it was prior to me being in Parliament, obviously. It was about 1994 or 1995 and it had bipartisan support at the time.
PRESENTER: It was at the height of those fights, wasn’t it?
PRESENTER: One of the big criticisms though of Sydney Airport is that it’s a major world tourist destination here and it’s one of the few airports in the world without going 24 hours a day.
ALBANESE: That’s true. There are of course flights at night in limited ways. There are freight flights. There are emergency hospital flights.
It’s close, obviously to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and other health facilities and there is a shoulder period, it’s called, in the morning where during the wintertime, because of the time zone issues, there are now about three flights a day.
But the important thing is to learn the lessons there, and the lessons are that all of those flights operate over water. They operate out of the bay, so they don’t impact communities.
Now, we can take that principle, apply it to Badgerys Creek which will get the economic benefit for Western Sydney and indeed for Sydney and New South Wales and Australia, by being open and available for passenger flights.
There wouldn’t be very many. But when you have the opportunity, because of the restrictions that were put in by the Hawke Government on planning around the airport in the 1980s, you essentially can have a flight path to the south-west of the airport that doesn’t fly over any existing communities or existing residences.
PRESENTER: The government came out yesterday and said your plan is unworkable because planes have to take off in a headwind. What’s your response to that?
ALBANESE: The poor old government has been caught a bit flat footed on this. They haven’t given any consideration at all to the issues of avoiding aircraft noise.
All airports around Australia now as a result of legislation that I introduced as the Minister have to have, effectively, Environmental Impact Statements every five years through their masterplans. And they have to minimise aircraft noise disruption.
The truth is, if you look at Sydney Airport, the runway, without getting too technical about it, they’re almost due north-south. They’re 340 degrees to the north and 150 degrees to the south.
So they’re very close to north and south and the number of times that those main runways are closed are very minimal. It can be counted essentially on one hand each year the times that those aren’t available.
PRESENTER: If you put the technical things to one side though, this is really about winning back some of those Western Sydney seats like Lindsay and Macquarie, isn’t it?
ALBANESE: No. What it’s about is making sure that there’s environmental best practice.
I certainly have had the experience of being in the inner west and the experience of people around Kingsford-Smith airport is that you’ve got to minimise the impact of any airport and I attempted to put in place controls when we were in Government to ensure that happened.
With technology in a modern world, planes make noise and trains and automobiles all make noise.
This policy provides for the economic benefit of Badgerys Creek Airport, those jobs.
This will be a jobs factory for Western Sydney effectively and a very exciting opportunity in conjunction with the employment lands around there if we get it right.
PRESENTER: But if it doesn’t operate 24 hours a day and there is a partial curfew in place, you’re not going to have as many jobs are you?
ALBANESE: You can have this method of operating with effectively a no-fly zone, with movements of up to 20 per hour.
It’s true that you can’t have the same level of volume if you’re landing and taking off on the same runway and if you’re ensuring that communities are protected.
But the truth is, there will be nothing like a demand for 20 flights every hour during those periods. People do not want to fly from Sydney to Melbourne at 3am.
The only passenger flights will be international for particular times because of the time zone overseas in Europe or indeed in the region.
So, you’re not going to be talking about anywhere near the numbers, but this will get all of the economic benefit whilst making sure that the interests of local communities are protected. And that’s perfectly legitimate.
Frankly, I don’t understand why the Government hasn’t come out with a proposal such as this itself.
PRESENTER: Alright. We’re just at the start of what is going to be a very, very long election campaign. Are you going to win this one?
ALBANESE: It’s certainly winnable, as all elections are and I would have thought that we were long odds six months ago, but people have been very disappointed with Malcolm Turnbull. I don’t think there’s a sense of purpose for this government.
They are in disarray. We had Parliament sitting this week on Tuesday with literally no legislation before it. It’s extraordinarily bad planning from the Government. It’s at war with itself.
You have a Prime Minister and a Treasurer who don’t seem to talk to each other and you have a Prime Minister who not only has disagreements with people associated with Tony Abbott and his supporters, but has disagreements with himself.
PRESENTER: If you don’t get across the line though, will you be the next Leader of the Labor Party?
ALBANESE: I’m aiming to win. I want to be a Minister in a Labor Government, not the Leader of the Opposition.
PRESENTER: Alright, let’s see what happens over the next very long couple of months. Thank you for your time.
PRESENTER: Hey, can you tell us something? Do you ever wear high-vis vests when you’re doing media opportunities? Have you been doing it lately?
ALBANESE: We didn’t yesterday at Mount Victoria but I was very interested in your story about puppy share before as someone who’s about to take their puppy off for a haircut at a place in St Peters in a little while.
PRESENTER: Can I ask how much you’re going to be paying for that haircut?
ALBANESE: Too much.
PRESENTER: That’s the case for everyone, isn’t it? Okay. Thank you!
PRESENTER: Anthony Albanese there, Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.