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Tuesday, 11 September 1973
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Mr GORTON (Higgins) - The first point I make is that the Postmaster-General (Mr Lionel Bowen) indicated what a frightful thing it was to suggest suspending Standing Orders in order to enable the Minister for Transport (Mr Charles Jones) to make a statement. If honourable members cast their minds back a few minutes they will remember that I was to make a personal explanation in this House and the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) suggested that it would be better for a statement to be made on the matter. Therefore I sat down. So if the Postmaster-General has not heard of a motion to suspend Standing Orders in order to allow a statement to be made, at least the Prime Minister has; he suggested it.

The second point I want to make arising out of the speech by the Postmaster-General is that I agree with him as to the great environmental damage and damage to the quality of life that would have been caused if an airport had been established at Towra.

Mr Reynolds - That is right.

Mr GORTON - That is right, yes. The Postmaster-General has indicated that he would fight to the death for that. Obviously he would not be fighting me, and he would not be fighting us because we made a decision not to establish an airport at Towra. So let him carry on his fight with the Minister for Civil Aviation, which he appears to have won, but do not let him blame us for this sort of internecine quarrelling.

The third point I want to make is that we are not raising this matter merely in the hope that somebody may be listening to the broadcast of these proceedings; we are raising it because we are concerned about the damage that can be done to the ordinary person's environment, comfort and quality of life - I have to use that phrase again - if an airport is established at Galston, just as we were concerned about the Mascot proposals.

Mr Reynolds - You took so long.

Mr GORTON - It is better to take a long time than to make the wrong decision and ignore the rights of individual citizens, which is what the proposal to establish an airport at Galston does, because let there be no question that if this proposal is proceeded with, not only will a great area of bushland near Sydney be destroyed, but goodness knows how many hills will have to be bulldozed down and how many valleys filled up. Not only the so-called silvertails, but also the ordinary people living in the areas around the proposed airport will have aircraft coming in over their heads day after day, hour after hour, and this ought to be something that is taken into consideration; pure technical matters should not be the only questions considered.

There are perfectly good and proper reasons why we should move this motion to suspend Standing Orders at this stage. Let us look at the history of this matter. The first point that arose, as I said before, was that the Minister for Civil Aviation either announced, or arranged for it to be announced in the Sydney Press, that the decision had been taken to establish a new airport at Towra. No doubt the Postmaster-General and even the other Minister had something to say about that, but this was the initial announcement. The decision was taken regardless of any consideration of the environment in which the people would have to live.

The next announcement a day or two later was that this was not so, that an airport was going to be established at Galston although .no proper environmental examination whatsoever had been made. The last I heard was an announcement by another Minister, the Minister for Housing (Mr Les Johnson), at a dinner in Parramatta on Monday night that they had not made any decision at all. So it is really about time that we had a statement to tell us exactly what the situation is. Has there been any proper planning? Apparently there has not, or at least if there has been it has not been the joint planning that is required, because the New South Wales Government has made it perfectly clear that it has not been properly consulted and that it does not go along with this decision to establish an airport at Galston.

Has a proper environmental study been made? Another Minister, the Minister for the Environment and Conservation (Dr Cass), indicated with great regret that he was not even able to get along to the Cabinet meeting to makea statement on the environment. If one had been made perhaps it was made by some sub-committee or by somebody else; but was it a proper one? Was it one that we would consider as perhaps we might consider an environmental study by a joint committee comprising members drawn from both sides of this House which was established to look into the damage to the environment done by this proposal? We, as a Government, appointed a committee comprising members from both sides of this House to examine the environmental damage that had been done at Mascot.

Why has not this information emanated from the Minister for Civil Aviation? Why can he not make a statement on this matter and tell us why members from both sides of the Parliament are not given a chance to speak on this matter? Surely these are all valid reasons for moving the motion to suspend Standing Orders. It will allow this information to be put before us now. We could be given the history and the whole matter could be studied. We need to know whether this proposal has been planned, what planning has taken place. We need to know what the actual decision is going to be. It has been sort of waffled about so much that we do not know what the decision is going to be. Above all, we need to be concerned about the people who can be disadvantaged by building an airport on this site at Galston or on a number of other sites. I am the first to admit that it is not easy. In relation to the statement by the Minister, why cannot we raise what could properly be a solution to this whole problem, and that is--

MrREYNOLDS -Four years. You should have started 5 years before that.

Mr GORTON - I am not allowed to answer disorderly interjections, but through you, Mr Deputy Speaker, I want to put this to the House: Who has considered going 50, 60, or 70 miles out and putting in a fast road transport link?

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Berinson)Order!The right honourable member's time has expired. The timeallotted for the debate also has expired.

Question resolved in the negative.

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