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Tuesday, 16 February 1999
Page: 2921


Dr NELSON (11:54 PM) —I was rising tonight in my capacity as the president of the Parliamentary Association for UNICEF to draw the attention of the House to the World Children's Report 1999 , the state of the education of young women in particular. But, given the remarks of the member for Lowe, I will make some comments in relation to aircraft noise in Sydney in my capacity as the chairman of the Sydney Airport Community Forum. I will defer my remarks on UNICEF and the almost one billion functionally illiterate children throughout the world to another time.

The facts are that the issue of the concentration of aircraft noise in Sydney was created by the Labor government. The long-term operating plan to which the member for Lowe refers was a consequence of the election of the Howard government in 1996 in response to what was in many cases the inhumane treatment of people living north and south of the Sydney airport through the concentration of aircraft noise by the then minister, the member for Kingsford-Smith.

Essentially, the long-term operating plan became necessary because when the third runway at Sydney airport was proudly opened—by the then Labor government, I might add—the actual impact of the third runway on Sydney residents and those who live under aircraft noise was not anticipated by anyone, including those who did the EIS and those who politically supported it at the time. The problem that we have got with the third runway—and the third runway simply cannot be closed for reasons other than those which people with a utopian view of life would appreciate—is that the runway is 1,053 metres away from the other runway along which it runs.

The precision aircraft radar monitor was purchased by Sydney airport authorities at the time that the third runway was opened. It was purchased because it was emerging technology which was designed specifically to enable—as the member for Lowe correctly points out—planes landing in parallel formation to continue to land and to maintain a reasonable landing rate with Airservices Australia and traffic controllers able to accurately pinpoint where the planes are during implement weather conditions. That has, of course, significant and positive safety implications for people living in Sydney.

I remind the House that in 1994 and 1995—and, of course, until March 1996—we had a Labor government. We did not have a Howard government then. The PRM was purchased by the authorities as part of the technological development of Sydney airport to facilitate the use of the parallel runways. Airservices Australia have been working on this technology since then. In fact, there is only one airport in the world—only recently Minneapolis—that has actually started using their PRM. There are another four airports throughout the world which have the technology but have not yet started using it.

The director of Airservices Australia announced last week to a meeting of the Imple mentation Monitoring Committee of the Sydney Airport Community Forum that he wished to start trialling the PRM at Sydney airport. The government's intention was to allow them to start trialling the PRM to the south of the airport. However, Mr Maclean, who directs Airservices Australia, advised the Implementation Monitoring Committee that he also intended to start trialling to the north of the airport. This is something that the government does not support.

The reason we were happy to see it trialled to the south of the airport is that it has no environmental impact upon human beings because the approximately three planes per hour that are required to bank in order to come into a final landing flight path south of the airport will do so over open sea and have no impact whatsoever on the people of Kurnell. The problem, which I share, is that until there is a thorough environmental assessment we will not know just what impact noise will have on people living to the north of the airport. I, and other members of the Sydney Airport Community Forum, also remain to be convinced that, if Airservices Australia start using this technology to the north of the airport, they will not be distracted from a long-term operating plan.

I remind the member for Lowe and those who are criticising the government that the only reason we are able to trial the sharing of aircraft noise in Sydney is because we got rid of the Keating government and Mr Brereton, who was then minister. If the member for Lowe is re-elected to government, unfortunately aircraft noise will be concentrated again. (Time expired)