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Monday, 23 November 2009
Page: 12403

Mrs MARKUS (3:21 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to his election promise as stated in this letter of 26 September 2007:

Labor has no plans to alter the status of RAAF base Richmond, and should we be elected to government later this year, Richmond will continue as a permanent operation facility.

Will the Prime Minister rule out the Richmond RAAF base in my electorate being used as a second airport for Sydney following pressure from the New South Wales government to find an alternative to Williamtown?

Mr RUDD (Prime Minister) —I thank the honourable member for her question. Can I simply say that no decisions have been made whatsoever in terms of the future location of further airport facilities in Sydney.

Opposition members interjecting—

Mr RUDD —Off they go, again, with another fear campaign—a fear campaign on school chaplaincies, a fear campaign on airports, a fear campaign on asylum seekers, a fear campaign on debt and deficit. What have I left out? A fear campaign on climate change as well. That is the stock-and-standard approach. I simply say to those opposite that the national interest dictates that Sydney will need new airport capacity.

Opposition members interjecting—

Mr RUDD —Let us just say to those opposite that this is called planning for long-term infrastructure needs. That is why we have invited the New South Wales government to participate in a joint study to assess options, identify potential sites and evaluate investment strategies for delivering additional airport capacity. The joint study will also look at ways of providing integrated transport solutions for the existing airport as well as any second airport. It will also consider the future of the Badgerys Creek site, given that the government has ruled it out as an option for a second airport. The study’s final terms of reference will be outlined in the aviation white paper, which is expected to be released shortly. That is the proper framework within which we will examine these matters.

The aviation white paper is scheduled to be released by the end of the year and our commitment to the Australian people is to develop, for the first time, a national aviation policy—something which the previous government did not have. The white paper will set out an aviation strategy for the next generation and the white paper will focus on improving aviation safety and security, making sure we have an economically efficient sector that creates jobs in the short and long term. The government has consulted widely for its white paper through last December’s green paper. That is the proper way in which you consider these things. That is the approach which has been supported by the minister responsible and that is the approach that we will be adopting, as a responsible government, on this nation’s long-term infrastructure needs.

I make a general point about infrastructure. For years and years and years the nation was crying out for a national infrastructure plan. How are we going to lay out our transport infrastructure in the future? What about our major ports for the future? What about our major freight rail links for the future? What about our national highway network for the future? What about the huge challenges of urban transport and urban public transport? We are in the business of advancing a national infrastructure plan and we intend to get on with it.