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Thursday, 27 June 1996
Page: 3018

Mrs VALE —My question is addressed to the Minister for Transport and Regional Development. Can the minister inform the House of the progress of the environmental impact statement for Holsworthy? When will the guidelines for the environmental impact statement be issued by the Commonwealth Environment Protection Agency? Can the minister assure the House that the constituents of Hughes will be given the opportunity of making submissions on the draft guidelines so as to ensure that all relevant matters are canvassed by the environmental impact statement itself?

Mr SHARP —I thank the honourable member for Hughes for her question. It is a very important issue from her point of view and, indeed, the government's. It is one that she has been ensuring is well represented in the government ranks. I inform the honourable member for Hughes that draft guidelines for the EIS for Badgerys Creek were circulated earlier this year and some 225 submissions were received in regard to those draft guidelines. They were received from a range of groups and are being considered at the moment.

New guidelines are now being drawn up in regard to the latest initiative by the government, which was announced on 20 May. Those draft guidelines will be released in early July. They will be then made available for public comment and circulated to the public for a minimum of four weeks. Submissions will be invited from interested persons in the public.

In relation to the last aspect of the question of the honourable member for Hughes—that is, whether members of her electorate will be able to make comments and submissions in regard to the EIS process—the answer is yes. They will be welcomed, we will expect them and we will treat them with due regard and great importance. Those comments will then be considered by the government. I expect that that process will be concluded some time in early August. In the meantime, studies into economic, engineering and air traffic management are also under way.

I make it clear to the honourable member for Hughes and to all members of this House that this process will be an open and transparent process. People in the community who have an interest or concern in regard to this will be more than welcome to participate in the process. Indeed, we will expect them to do so.

This is in stark contrast to the process that was undertaken by the former Labor government when it did an environmental impact study into the effects of the construction of a third runway at Sydney's Mascot airport. That was not an open and transparent process. It was not one in which the public was invited to have an involvement. As a consequence, it was not an environmental impact study that was regarded by the public to be credible. Of course, as the third runway was opened that process was shown to be not only not credible but also fatally flawed.

We are determined in evaluating these sites to ensure that that is not going to be repeated by the new coalition government. This will be an open and transparent process. We will invite public submissions and public involvement in this to ensure both credibility and a satisfactory outcome.