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Monday, 11 August 2003
Page: 18017

Mr LEO McLEAY (6:26 PM) —The Sydney airport master plan was released last week. The master plan outlines a devastating scenario for the 800,000 people who live around Sydney airport. The major feature was the expectation of the airport's owners that in the next 20 years there would be a threefold increase in passenger numbers and a doubling of the number of flights—that is, 68.3 million passengers on 412,000 planes per annum. What will this mean for my electorate of Watson? It will mean a lot of terrible things for them. It will mean an increase in the amount of traffic on the east-west runway. It will mean more curfew breaches. People are ringing me up and telling me that planes are landing at Sydney airport on the east-west runway early in the morning. A friend of mine told me he arrived in Sydney a few weeks ago on a flight from Singapore at 5 a.m. This is before a curfew that is not supposed to end until 6 a.m.

We see a very well-publicised little stunt by the Airports Corporation in the newspaper on the weekend about how a Virgin Blue flight was sent back to Melbourne because it was 45 seconds over the curfew. That might have been one plane they sent back but airlines now schedule flights to break the curfew. The people of my electorate will pay for that. Life will be made unbearable for the people of Hurstville, Bardwell Park and Bexley North in particular. All those people who live along the ridge at Hurstville will have these planes coming in and taking off at an increased frequency. If you are going to double the number of flights and treble the number of passengers, that just means a lot of trouble for these people. It means a lot of unhealthy airport related diseases and it means that their lifestyles are significantly diminished.

What is the Prime Minister saying about all of this? According to the newspapers, he is saying that Sydney would probably never need a second airport and that technological change and larger aircraft would probably mean the city could survive with Sydney airport alone. That is like telling people that a 747 makes less noise than a biplane. I wonder what the Prime Minister meant by technological change? Perhaps this has shades of the old TV series Doctor Who. You know the bit I mean: the Tardis. The next thing we will see will be the Prime Minister and the former secretary of his department, Max Moore-Wilton, who now manages the Sydney Airports Corporation, getting their heads together over the sale of Telstra and all those telephone boxes. Sell Telstra to the Airports Corporation so that people can travel in telephone booths. So there you have it—the Tardis solution! Maybe that is what the Prime Minister means by technological change.

The Prime Minister and his mates in the Sydney Airport Corporation are wrong on this issue. Technological change will not remove the need for a second Sydney airport, and bigger planes are not the answer either. The airport's own scenario says that, regardless of bigger planes, there will be a doubling of the number of flights. There was some suggestion, attributed to the Prime Minister, that bigger planes, as well as carrying more passengers than smaller planes, were a lot quieter. Anyone who has experienced the noise made by larger planes could certainly refute that argument. What is desperately needed is a second airport for Sydney, not some naive suggestion that bigger planes will obviate the need for more airport provision or some wishful hope that future technological change will solve the problem.

So what do we need to do? It is quite simple really, and it can be done now and not at some vague future time when planes have enormous capacity and are quiet and when technological change, in the Prime Minister's view, can work miracles. Firstly, we need to be realistic and accept the fact that Sydney needs a second airport. Secondly, we need to get consensus on a site for the second airport. There must be a bipartisan approach, both within the federal parliament and between the federal and New South Wales governments. A site needs to be identified as soon as possible and agreement reached by all concerned to ensure that that site is not encroached upon, as the Badgerys Creek site has been over the years since it was first proposed as an appropriate site for a second Sydney airport.

I first got elected to my local council in 1971 and the issue then was aircraft noise at Sydney airport. I got elected to this parliament in 1979 in a by-election and the one promise the then Leader of the Opposition, Bill Hayden, made was that Labor would build a second Sydney airport. This issue has gone on and on and on. What we need is a solution. We need to find a site for this airport and we need to find it now. We need to ensure that urban sprawl in Sydney does not overtake this site as it has overtaken the Badgerys Creek site. What we need in this whole argument is certainty—certainty for people in the west and certainty for people in the east. The 800,000 people who live around Sydney airport need that certainty and the people who live in the western suburbs need that certainty too. This should become an issue that governments agree on rather than point score on. We need to find a site, we need to get it right and we need to do it now.

I would also like to mention a second issue this evening, which is the awarding of the 2003 Sydney Peace Prize to Dr Hanan Ashrawi. Dr Ashrawi has been a tireless worker for peace in the Middle East. She has been an outspoken critic from within the Palestinian community, calling for reform of the Palestinian Authority, as well as being an outstanding spokesperson for the Palestinian community. She is highly intelligent, personable and very courageous.

Dr Ashrawi told the Sydney Morning Herald last week on 9 August that she was honoured to receive the prize. It was interesting that the naming of Dr Ashrawi as recipient of the prize had to be delayed because some people thought it was inappropriate. When she spoke to the Sydney Morning Herald she said:

In the Middle East and elsewhere an award for peace sends an important message.

Women contribute to peace by sustaining life and making it meaningful. Women all over the world have to work against the forces of dehumanisation.

Peace has to be embedded in human rights and can never incorporate injustices and discrimination.

The Sydney Morning Herald article also reports comments made by Jeremy Jones, the President of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, and Stella Cornelius, a member of the peace foundation jury and of the Jewish community. Mr Jones is reported as saying that Dr Ashrawi had consistently opposed peace and accused her of being an old-style propagandist. According to the Sydney Morning Herald he also accused the foundation of being blinded by celebrity and said that the choice of Dr Ashrawi reflected badly on the prize whose previous winners included Archbishop Tutu and Mary Robinson. However, they seem to be very happy that Dr Ashrawi won. Mary Robinson said that she admired Dr Ashrawi's commitment to seeking a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She said of Dr Ashrawi:

She has the respect of the international human rights community for her condemnation of violence on all sides and for her work to achieve a just peace.

Archbishop Tutu said:

No one could be more deserving of this prestigious award. Against daunting odds she has remained committed to finding a peaceful solution to what seems an intractable problem.

But, significantly, Stella Cornelius said:

This is a choice which gives an opportunity for wider dialogue on peace and conflict resolutions, social justice and human rights. As such it is a good choice.

Mr Jones's comments on this issue are in line with his regular attacks on members of parliament and others who give any support for the plight of the Palestinian people.

Mrs Irwin —Correct.

Mr LEO McLEAY —The attacks that have been made on my colleague the member for Fowler for her support of the Palestinian people have been disgraceful. It amazes me how intolerant Mr Jones and the pro-Israeli lobby can be. If you are not an enthusiastic supporter of the Sharon version of the Berlin Wall, you are considered to be anti-Jewish. When will the Jeremy Joneses of this world understand that criticism of the Israeli government and its actions is not anti-Semitism?

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lindsay)—I remind the member for Fowler that she is not in her place in parliament.