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Tuesday, 16 February 1999
Page: 2920


Mr MURPHY (10:49 PM) —I rise to speak on the issue of Sydney airport and in particular the recent revelations that the federal government has approved expenditure on a controversial new radar system at Sydney airport called the precision radar monitor system, or PRM. Under the PRM system it is estimated that aircraft may fly over Sydney approximately 1,000 feet lower than their present altitudes. Further, I am informed that under the PRM system, aircraft will descend in spiral order. This system may require aircraft to pass over Sydney suburbs up to three times prior to descent to Sydney airport compared with generally one pass at present. This means louder aircraft because of flights being lower by 1,000 feet, longer noise events, fewer short periods of respite and, most alarmingly, the real prospect of a greatly increased number of flights.

Why is the PRM system being introduced? We know it has nothing to do with fair aircraft noise sharing over Sydney. I will tell you: it has been introduced so that we can return to parallel runway operations at Sydney airport. The PRM system is a parallel approach system only and thus the PRM system will increase the number of take-offs over the north-west area of Sydney, including in my constituency of Lowe. At present, Sydney airport is functionally limited to approximately 60 movements per hour whenever lack of visibility requires instrument landing. This occurs on average two days per week. By comparison, Sydney airport can currently manage about 76 movements an hour. When fully operational, the PRM system will ensure the full capacity of Sydney's airport parallel runways in almost any weather conditions. Therefore, the PRM system will enable airlines to schedule for growing traffic on the assumption that Sydney airport can accommodate 80 movements per hour, which is its current capped limit.

If introduced, the PRM system will cause aircraft landing from the north to be concentrated all the way from Hornsby, through the heart of the inner west, with filthy, noisy and dangerously low flying aircraft. The PRM system has been approved for purchase by the government under conditions of secrecy: underhanded, no fanfare and no public announcement. I put to this House that the PRM system is nothing more than a further shameless expansion of Sydney's airport flight capacity at the horrendous environmental expense of the residents of Sydney, and in particular my constituents in Lowe.

Let there be no illusion about the dire consequences of the PRM system for the people of Sydney. Aircraft, whether departing from or arriving at Sydney airport, will be flying lower, will be flying in double and even triple circuits over the homes, schools and hospitals of Sydney's most densely populated residential areas, especially over the constituents in Lowe. As the PRM system is a parallel runway system, this makes a mockery of the government's rhetoric to deliver a fair and equitable share of the noise. The PRM system also has a sinister impact that has not been made clear to either constituents or this House, and that is the PRM system effectively eliminates the implementation of the long-term operating plan.

The Minister for Transport and Regional Services, Mr Anderson, responded to my question on notice No. 295, put to him on 3 December 1998, by making it clear that the LTOP is the instrument which regulates the environmental impacts of aircraft movements.

The Howard government has put everything into convincing the people affected by aircraft noise that their hope of environmental salvation rests on two events taking place. One, full implementation and operation of the long-term operating plan and, two, a second airport for Sydney. However, the facts are that the LTOP has not been fully implemented. That is, critical modes of aircraft movements have not been implemented, principally for political reasons. The PRM system is all about the expansion of Sydney airport and the Howard government's pandering to the tourism industry, the hospitality industry, the aviation fuel industry, the hotel industry, the airport shopkeepers and the operators of the airport's car park. It is a truism that, as an airport, Sydney operates very well as a shopping centre and a car park—all at the environmental expense of the residents of Sydney.

Clearly, the government is set on a program of continued expansion of Sydney airport irrespective of the need for a second airport for Sydney. All this is designed to increase profits in anticipation of the privatisation and sell-off of Sydney airport. In other words, the Howard government is fattening the lamb before the kill. The implementation of the PRM system will almost certainly mean a return to the parallel runway system of old. Aircraft movements will return to a parallel system to enable an increase in movement capacity for Sydney airport.

The residents of Sydney are not fools. They have been misled and fed disinformation on the airport expansion for too long. I am hard pressed to find anyone in the greater Sydney community who believes that noise will be shared equitably or that the long-term operating plan will be properly implemented. The people in my electorate of Lowe have come to know that this government has abandoned its policy of environmental equity, noise sharing and the long-term operating plan, and this realisation will not go unpunished. (Time expired)