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Monday, 20 September 1999
Page: 9910

Mr ALBANESE (12:59 PM) —I am very pleased to present the Aviation Noise Ombudsman Bill 1999 today calling for the establishment of an Australian Aviation Noise Ombudsman. For the first time in Australian history, the Aviation Noise Ombudsman Bill 1999 provides communities suffering from aircraft noise with an independent umpire to arbitrate their complaints. Any changes to aircraft routes over populated areas will have to be examined by the Aviation Noise Ombudsman. The Aviation Noise Ombudsman will ensure that community complaints regarding excessive aircraft noise, breaches of the cap and the curfew which are in operation at several airports and incidents of fuel dumping and venting are heard without bias and judged fairly on the merits of the case. An arm's length approach is what is needed, rather than the existing situation of complaining to the body which is itself responsible for those breaches.

People's complaints will go to an independent body which can and will investigate breaches on behalf of those residents. The ombudsman would remove the financial and political interests that have been at play when solving the problems of breaches of curfew, changes to flight paths, fuel dumping and other issues associated with the operation of airports.

My bill is modelled on similar legislation which has been in operation in the United States for three years. A former US Aviation Noise Ombudsman, Mr William Albee, will be visiting Australia in November this year in order to address the Australian Mayoral Aviation Conference, and I encourage all my parliamentary colleagues to take advantage of this unique opportunity to seize the moment and take action with regard to aviation noise and its impact on the community.

If the parliament supports the Aviation Noise Ombudsman Bill it will be a victory for the hundreds and thousands of Australians who live under the flight paths of Australia's airports. My electorate of Grayndler is badly affected by Sydney airport. In consultation with the community, we went through a lengthy process of developing a long-term operating plan which would share the noise. Yet what we had last week was the announcement at a meeting of the Sydney Airport Community Forum that the government was prepared to bat on and introduce a precision radar monitoring system which will lead to a `blank page', as the head of Sydney Airport Corporation put it, with regard to flight paths related to Sydney airport, regardless of the fact that the community has rejected such a move and regardless of the fact that the minister has failed to take action on that.

As well, we see the farcical situation being promoted whereby the solution to Sydney airport needs, it is being said, will see regional airlines being moved to Bankstown. If the government takes a lesson from the debacle in Victoria on Saturday, it is that regional areas cannot continue to be ignored and treated with contempt by this contemptuous government which has a National Party minister as the Minister for Transport and Regional Services and who has refused to support this bill up till now.

But this is a national issue. That is why I am very pleased that my bill has been seconded by the member for Lilley, Wayne Swan, whose electorate is badly affected by aircraft noise from Brisbane airport. This bill has the support of members such as Kim Wilkie, the member for Swan, and Stephen Smith, the member for Perth, who have raised the issues of aircraft noise impacting adversely on the residents around Perth airport. At Adelaide airport as well airport noise is a major issue. As you would know, Mr Deputy Speaker Nehl, aircraft noise is adversely affecting the residents around Coffs Harbour airport as well.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Nehl) —Not much.

Mr ALBANESE —The Deputy Speaker says no.


Mr ALBANESE —Not much. But I can assure him that the residents around Coffs Harbour think it certainly is, as do the residents around Coolangatta airport. I have called upon the member for Richmond to come out and support this bill and convince his National Party colleague, the minister, to take action.

This is a national issue. It is an issue which must be got right for those people living in the firing line, those who live with the noise of planes roaring overhead after the curfew and with the smell of unburnt fuel which is being dumped over their homes, gardens and schools. The increase in population around these airports in Australia means that the government must take action. We do need an independent umpire. We do need a genuine complaints unit which will enable people to get proper justice and have their complaints heard. (Time expired)

Bill read a first time.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Nehl) —In accordance with standing order 104A, the second reading will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.