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Monday, 31 October 2011
Page: 11978


Mr IRONS (Swan) (10:45): I rise to support the Air Services (Aircraft Noise) Amendment Bill 2011 brought forward by the member for Pearce, and I congratulate her on all the work that she has done in Western Australia, in particular, and with Airservices Australia and the government in trying to get the recommendations of the Senate inquiry implemented. I also congratulate the member for Hindmarsh. I visited his electorate last year and he showed me the noise insulation program that he fought hard for and that has been implemented. I also note that he said he went out and listened to the aircraft when he was a young boy. I believe that is part of the hearing problems he has these days. The member for Hindmarsh and I share membership of a committee and I just have to remember which side of him to sit on so that he can hear what I am saying. Those aircraft have had an effect on the member for Hindmarsh.

Back to a serious note, the member for Hindmarsh mentioned the white paper. It is unfortunate that the white paper is only about recommendations and the only thing that has been brought forward from it is the implementation of the ombudsman. We look forward to the member for Hindmarsh continuing to fight to make sure that those recommendations are actually implemented rather than staying as recommendations, as we have seen from the Gillard Labor government. The government is not acting on the key Senate inquiry recommendations to address aircraft noise, particularly in Perth and in my electorate of Swan.

I mentioned the member for Pearce and the work that she has done within Western Australia. I would also like to mention the member for Canning and the member for Hasluck, who have worked hard to raise awareness and who have worked with the ASA to get improved consultation with the community, and that is what this bill is about.

Before I go into the whole bill, I would like to give a bit of history about the particular issues that I have dealt with in my electorate of Swan and talk about some of the background to my becoming involved in this bill. In November 2008 the WARRP, the Western Australian Route Review Project, was implemented. That was done with minimum community consultation. The changes were made in November 2008, and that was under the auspices of the current Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Anthony Albanese, his department and Airservices Australia. From about January 2009, residents from across the Swan electorate started contacting my office to express their confusion and their concern about the changes to the noise levels. I guess it would be the same for the member for Pearce and for the member for Canning in that they had no forewarning of the changes. A lot of people had specifically gone out and purchased property that was not within flight paths—and then, all of a sudden, they were experiencing flight incidents across their properties up to 200 times a day.

In February 2009 I decided to do an investigation in my electorate to see what the responses would be, so I put out a survey to the community to assess the extent and impact of the changes. The response from the residents was unbelievable. So many people were affected, and we would have had about a 20 per cent response rate to the surveys we put out. I think that most members in this House would understand that 20 per cent is a very good response to any survey that we put out. The expectation is usually about seven or eight per cent. Most of the responses were with regard to the lack of consultation on the flight path changes. They felt that they had not been informed and that the changes were having a direct impact on their lives and also on the values of their properties.

In July 2009 Airservices Australia requested the data that we had gained, and we also requested data from Airservices Australia on the changes in the flight paths. We confirmed to Airservices Australia all the things that the residents had been saying. The data we received from Airservices Australia showed a substantial year-on-year variation in aircraft traffic, where they had previously been stating that there had been minimal changes. Then, in August 2009 at a special meeting at Perth Airport of the Perth Aircraft Noise Management Consultative Committee, Airservices Australia did admit that its community consultation process was flawed. But ASA and the government reject the calls to reopen the Western Australian Route Review Project. Also at that time I had been in consultation and had made some media statements, and the response from the minister was that I was playing politics. But, in looking at the history of aircraft noise and community consultation around Australia, I noticed that the member for Grayndler, the member for Griffith and the member for Lilley were very proactive when they were in opposition. So I was quite surprised to hear the minister state that I was playing politics when I knew that he was so passionate about this issue prior to his becoming part of the government.

In September 2009, we launched a campaign for insulation compensation for Perth residents. Households in Sydney got an average of approximately $60,000 per house spent on insulation, including reverse-cycle air conditioning. If it is good enough for Sydney and Adelaide, it should be good enough for Perth. There is no difference between noise from a plane taking off in Sydney and noise from a plane taking off in Perth. We also called for a review of the aircraft noise exposure forecasting system, ANEF, which has no direct relevance to noise effects across the Perth metropolitan area. It was interesting to note that that system was initially designed for land planning—not to do with anything to do with aircraft noise. The system is actually only a forecast; it does not actually take measurements. Because of that, many people believe that the system is flawed and needs a review.

In October 2009 it also emerged that during the WARRP process there had been no environmental impact assessment done on the flight path changes by the environment minister of the day, Peter Garrett. It is required under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. So, again, we wrote to Mr Garrett and to Mr Albanese to seek clarification and to see if there would be anything done in regard to the environmental impact. After a six-month delay, they said that there would be no changes, the WARRP would not be reopened or changed in any way to suit the residents and nor would any noise insulation scheme be implemented.

The member for Pearce, the member for Canning and I managed to work with the Senate coalition members and get a Senate inquiry up in regard to the process of Australian Airservices consultation with communities. We found that, particularly with the Perth hearings, the venue that had initially been set aside was changed to a much smaller room, which meant that a lot of the people who made submissions from my electorate and from the electorate of Pearce were unable to come in to hear the evidence and the inquiry in process in Perth. A lot of them felt as though they had been robbed; and, again, they were not able to get their message across to Airservices Australia. So, even though there was a Senate inquiry, it was reduced to a small room and not all the people who were interested in attending could attend.

The bill that the member for Pearce has put forward is designed to ensure that this will never happen again; that the community consultation process performed by Airservices Australia will be done for the benefit of the community and will give the community plenty of time to plan and to make submissions about any proposed changes to flight path patterns.

I support the bill, because it is a means to prevent this from recurring. But we still need to address the issue for the affected local residents of Swan, Pearce and Hasluck, who are currently still having to deal with up to 200 flight experiences a day over their residences. They feel as though they need to be compensated in the same manner as the people who live near the airports in Sydney and Adelaide are compensated. I feel that the only way they are going to do this is by reviewing the ANEF system, which I will continue to fight for and continue to support—particularly with the member for Pearce—and I congratulate her again for putting this bill forward.