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Monday, 1 June 1998
Page: 4351

Mr McCLELLAND (10:30 PM) —I rise to express concern with an article appearing in the Sydney Morning Herald this morning written by a Mr Wainwright, not so much over the point of view of Mr Wainwright's opinions but because the article was entitled, `Aircraft noise targets missed, and same suburbs bear the brunt'. Mr Wainwright spoke of how the government's long-term operating plan is not achieving its results and of how the current mode of operating Kingsford Smith Airport is not achieving the percentages over the respective suburbs that the government had intended to achieve to supposedly `share the noise'.

My concern is that Mr Wainwright and so many other people have approached the topic with the view that those percentages are attainable. Anyone with commonsense will tell you that they are just not attainable. They cannot happen for two reasons: safety and efficiency. Any sensible person looking at a two-lane highway is going to tell you that that two-lane highway is going to operate far more safely, far more efficiently in terms of traffic flow and without the risk of accident if you have not got an intersection across it.

What we are talking about is akin to a two-lane highway at Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport, with, of course, a parallel north-south runway and the long-term operating plan being dependent upon using the east-west crossing runway mode of operation. So, effectively you are putting an intersection in a two-lane highway where jumbo jets are travelling at 300 kilometres an hour before they take off. Unlike a two-lane highway, you cannot put up a stop sign and you cannot put up traffic lights—those planes cannot stop. If an error is made, there is going to be a collision with devastating consequences.

It is about time that those on the government side admitted that the long-term operating plan cannot work. It cannot happen because of the safety consequences. The crossing runway mode of operation is operating only during non-peak periods because there is an acknowledgment by at least the experts who are operating the airport that to operate it at peak hour is just ludicrous. However, during the non-peak periods, to bump up these statistics—and Mr Wainwright referred to the intention to bump them up between now and September—there is a lot of pressure being put on pilots and on air traffic controllers to use the crossing runway mode of operation for the sake of mere statistics.

Pilots are complaining that they are being forced to use the crossing runway mode of operation in crosswinds of up to 25 knots, despite the fact that the international standard is only 15 knots. Air traffic controllers—or at least their association—have written directly to the minister expressing their concern. The pilots have written to the minister expressing their concern. Yet those on the other side of the House are continuing with this facade that these targets are attainable.

They are just not attainable and the consequences are going to be an accident with devastating consequences. I do not say that lightly because the figures indicate that 83 per cent of accidents occur within eight kilometres of an airport. Indeed, 60 per cent of accidents occur on take-off or landing: it is a very vulnerable time for an airport operation.

The environmental impact statement procedure into the third runway at Sydney (Kingsford Smith) said that, on the figures of 0.03 fatalities for every 100,000 landings, the probabilities are that there will be an accident at Sydney KSA within the next 40 years. So we are talking about a situation where there is probably going to be an accident and we are talking about a situation where this minister—and this government—for purely political reasons is directing planes over people's homes instead of over the water for the sake of statistics and for the sake of in electioneering brochures—not for efficiency and not for safety but for purely base political motives that are unattainable.

It is about time this government woke up to the fact and admitted to the Australian public that the long-term operating plan is a farce. It is about time that it got on with the logical planning and operation of Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport and got on with the job of building a second Sydney airport.