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Wednesday, 22 October 1997
Page: 9589

Mr MAREK(11.36 a.m.) —Many would be well aware I am the owner and operator of my own twin-engined Cessna 310 aircraft. I have owned it for approximately seven years. Therefore, I guess it is somewhat fitting I talk on aviation issues. It is also with great pleasure that I accept the new position on the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Communications, Transport and Microeconomic Reform.

The Airports Legislation Amendment Bill 1997 is the second phase in the sale of federal airports. The flexibility is allowing some of the remaining airports to be sold on a freehold basis. On the outset, one could become concerned about the fact that governments continue to sell off assets and I am compassionate about a lot of those people's concerns. But people must understand various reforms are necessary to kick-start the country and to change the mentality from where people believe that this country and the government owe them something. This is wrong. It is this socialist welfare mentality impressed upon people from the Keating Labor government that has left us where we are today.

Going back to the concerns people have about the sale of assets, I hate to have to admit that, in some cases, privatisation is the only way to make some operations work, as the current work practices entrenched in the workplace stop the operation from ever becoming financially viable. Quoting from the background to the legislation, I think it is absolutely important that people reading this speech have a firm indication of what the legislation was about. On 1 July 1997, the government executed the first phase of the sale of federal airports with the granting of long-term leases of major airports at Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.

Melbourne airport was sold for $1.31 billion to Australia Pacific Airports Corporation, comprising AMP, BAA, Axiom Funds Management and Hastings Fund Management. Brisbane airport was sold for $1.39 billion to Brisbane Airport Corporation Ltd, comprising Amsterdam airport, Commonwealth Bank, Brisbane City Council and the Port of Brisbane Group. Perth airport was sold for $643 million to the Air Australia Development Group, comprising Airport Group Holdings International, Infratil Australia and Hastings Fund Management.

Airports sold on a freehold basis must also continue to operate as airports. The legislation we passed some time ago also ensured that individuals and companies buying airports must use the airports for the original intent. It is absolutely important that people know that, although many of these airports are being sold off or into lease, anybody purchasing them will have to use them for their original intent, which is as an airport air facility. That would be somewhat comforting to many.

The electorate of Capricornia has many options in relation to expanding its use of airports, in particular the need to lengthen the runway at Rockhampton to 3,200 metres. This is in line with the new developments in the Dawson Valley area—the new Nathan Gorge Dam—which should soon be coming on line. The proposal has been put forward and funding has, in some ways, already been announced.

This will bring major benefits to the region, particularly overseas exports. We will have the ability to fly out red claw, fruits, vegetables and flowers to overseas countries. It will be an incredible boost for the Capricornia region. With that in mind, I do not mind pushing the barrow that it is absolutely important that various areas be expanded.

The Capricornia electorate has also grown somewhat. It has physically geographically doubled in size and now includes other areas of Longreach, Winton, Aramac and Barcaldine as well. What would significantly benefit that area is an upgrade to the Longreach airport. This will be an addition in line with our infrastructure strategy put in place to help the western part of the new electorate.

Listening to many of the speakers today, I also find it necessary to comment, as did a previous speaker, the member for Fadden (Mr Jull), in relation to the placement of airports. I feel that governments—local, state or federal—should also legislate to prevent people purchasing housing land particularly around airports. It is absolutely crazy. As far as airports are concerned, they are usually there in the first place. Yet people move to and want to build housing estates, and those sorts of things, right next to the airports. The airport was there first.

It is absolutely crazy people being able to build right next to them. Then, all of a sudden, they start complaining about the noise factor. I guess this is somewhat human nature, because the land values and the housing values would be cheaper at the time. But, at the end of the day, when the land or houses are sold on, all of a sudden we have the problem of people complaining about airport noise. It leaves us in the exact situation we hear about today with places like Essendon, Sydney, and so forth.

I will not dwell on it. There were only a few points in particular that I wished to make in relation to the Airports Legislation Amendment Bill 1997. I understand the opposition has various amendments. As far as I am concerned, the legislation that is put forward by the coalition government is good, solid legislation. It will go a long way to ensuring that airports around this country, through their privatisation and so forth, will give a benefit, and of course a financial boost, to society.

Motion (by Mr Ted Grace) agreed to:

That further proceedings on the bill be conducted in the House.