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Wednesday, 13 August 2003
Page: 18404

Mr BARTLETT (2:57 PM) —My question is addressed to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport and Regional Services. Would the Deputy Prime Minister further advise the House of the issues involved in selecting a second Sydney airport site?

Mr ANDERSON (Deputy Prime Minister) —I thank the honourable member for his question and again acknowledge his very real interest in the reopened and unnecessary furore of interest around the Sydney area, inside and outside the basin, about the ALP's desire to find a second airport site. Despite the fact that it is obvious that it will not be needed in the foreseeable future and, indeed, may never be needed, the opposition is still pressing on with its search.

One option that I am concerned about, I would have to say, is that they might be considering expanding the Richmond Air Force base. The existing runway there is not long enough to handle a Boeing 747 aircraft, so the airport would be of little use in its current form. It could be extended, the member for Batman, I am sure, will be interested to know. He is feigning non-interest now in a second airport facility—it has gone a bit wrong. It could be extended. However, that would involve demolishing part of Richmond or Windsor. You could move it another way. There is a minor obstacle to the west of the airport, which would make it unsafe for passenger aircraft operations, and that is the Blue Mountains. You could move them, or part of them. The other option would be to build a new runway extending south-west across the Richmond-Windsor road, and aircraft landing on the new runway from the south would fly directly over Penrith at 3,000 feet. That, too, presents some technical problems.

In short, I want to say that there are very good reasons for rejecting Richmond, along with the sites that I nominated yesterday—there are a few to work through. Richmond, I want to note today, ought to be rejected, but I fear—and the residents of Richmond fear—that the Labor Party's new site selection committee, site selection committee No. 6, will want to look at it closely. My fears, I think, are well founded, because Labor's policy process here is exactly in line with the six stages that pundits say badly managed projects are sometimes said to go through. The first is wild enthusiasm; the second is total confusion; the third is utter despair; the fourth is the search for the guilty; the fifth is the persecution of the innocent; and the sixth is the promotion of the incompetent.

Labor is currently at stage 4, which is the search for the guilty. That is where they are at the moment. We have already seen the Leader of the Opposition and the member for Batman in a wild state of excitement and enthusiasm. They had identified the greatest electoral winner of all times for the Sydney basin. So there was great, wild enthusiasm at first. That was immediately followed by total confusion for the member for Grayndler because, as he pointed out, Labor's policy was, in his words, `an example of a bad policy process leading to bad policy'. He said:

The fact is that people such as myself and other members around Sydney airport were not consulted about this policy.

And neither, astonishingly, it emerged, was the elder statesman of the ALP, the Premier of New South Wales. He went on radio after the decision and said that he had not spoken about it to the federal Labor Party either. That produced the next stage. On Monday we heard utter despair in the voice of the member for Sydney, who said:

... I think it was the wrong decision to make. I have been open about the fact that I thought all along it's the wrong decision to make but, you know, all I can deal with is what I've got in front of me ...

The opposition has now moved on to stage 4—that is, the search for the guilty. The member for Batman, having made a complete mess of advising his leader not only on transport policy but on the politics of the Sydney region, is now claiming that it is all Bob Carr's fault. In the Sydney Morning Herald this morning he said:

Having succeeded in removing Badgerys Creek from consideration, the Carr Government must now accept its responsibilities in helping to find and protect a new site.

So the Leader of the Opposition and the member for Batman decided they wanted to look for a new second airport, even though Sydney does not need one. They did not consult their colleagues; they did not consult the New South Wales Labor government. The Leader of the Opposition did not consult Labor's elder statesman, Bob Carr, which is just amazing when you stop and think about it. At least the Leader of the Opposition now knows that his adviser on transport is not up to it in either policy terms or political terms, and we hope he will take notice of that. But now we suddenly find that it is all Bob Carr's fault. All I can say is that we will be waiting with very great interest for the remaining two stages of the Labor Party's site selection process, which I remind the House are the persecution of the innocent and then the promotion of the incompetent. But you would have to say that it is very obvious that they have already started promoting the incompetent.