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Tuesday, 10 March 1998
Page: 907

Mr BARTLETT (10:35 PM) —The debate on Sydney's airport needs continues to arouse a lot of heat. Last December the EIS on Badgerys Creek was released, and then in January the auditor's report was produced by SMEC. Needless to say, those two reports have generated a considerable reaction within the local community, and I am sure the member for Greenway (Mr Mossfield) would agree with that. The pent-up anxiety of local residents was released in a flood after the release of those documents. Some of that was really rather exaggerated, but a lot of those concerns were very well founded and quite justified.

The EIS and the parallel audit show two things very clearly. They show, firstly, that this government has delivered on its promise to conduct a fully transparent EIS, and that is in stark contrast to the policies of the Labor Party. Before the last election, the then Labor government was not even going to offer an EIS until the coalition promised it would do an EIS and then, kicking and screaming, Labor promised that they would finally come on board and conduct an EIS as well.

The parallel audit process on this EIS was the first time in Australia that any government has commissioned an independent parallel audit on an EIS process. It is the first time that that process has been published, that the audit report has been published and opened to further community scrutiny and consultation, and it is the first time that a government has committed itself to taking on board the recommendations of that audit and to then adjust the EIS process according to findings of that audit process—an independent, transparent and thorough EIS.

The second thing that the EIS and audit process showed is this: it does raise considerable doubts about Badgerys Creek airport. The EIS itself shows that there are problems with aircraft noise, that there are problems with air quality, and there are problems with transport links. Particularly significant were the problems with air quality in western Sydney. The EIS shows that western Sydney is already at maximum levels of ozone and that the construction of an airport there would probably lead to a 25 to 30 per cent increase in ozone levels in western Sydney.

Furthermore, the audit process conducted by SMEC shows that there were significant shortcomings in the EIS process and that there was insufficient attention given to the impact on surface drainage system, particularly the Hawkesbury-Nepean system. It showed that waste disposal issues were not adequately covered, that there was a lack of rigour in the economic analysis, and that there was inadequate analysis of the social impact. The pleasing thing is that the minister has committed himself to taking on board those concerns raised by the independent audit. They will be looked at and the EIS process will continue to look at those issues.

This again is a sharp contrast to Labor's position. You remember that before the last election the then minister, now the member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr Brereton), said that the Badgerys Creek airport would go ahead regardless of the EIS—in other words, we will do an EIS, sure; then we will ignore it and push ahead regardless of what it says, regardless of what the residents want. At least this government has said that we will address the issues raised in the EIS, we will address the issues raised in the audit report and we will then consider it further.

The Hobart conference of the Labor Party certainly gave no assurance to the people of western Sydney. In fact, it was a con job pure and simple. It was a two bob each way bet. The Labor Party said, `Sure, we are still committed to having a second airport in the Sydney Basin, but we will not quite say it will be at Badgerys Creek. It will be somewhere else in the Sydney Basin.' It is obvious that the Labor Party was trying to treat the people of western Sydney as fools. If it is not going to be at Badgerys Creek but they still want it in the Sydney Basin, where in the world do they think they are going to put it? That whole process was a cynical exercise by the Labor Party to try to con the people of western Sydney again.

The EIS on the Badgerys Creek proposal and the audit report have made it very clear that there are doubts about the Badgerys Creek site. Those doubts are significant enough to have to think again. Those doubts are significant enough to say that Badgerys Creek is not the location for another airport, and to say that we need to look for an alternative. It is simply not fair to the residents of western Sydney to transfer the problems of inner city to the people of the west. It is time to think again.