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Tuesday, 28 February 2012
Page: 2147

Mr MURPHY (Reid) (22:17): One of the greatest concerns of my constituents is the unending daily assault by aircraft noise. It starts at 6 am and persists until 11 pm with the frequently added insult of irregular curfew-breaking arrivals and departures. When Kingsford Smith Airport was opened in 1924 and was used by a few small aircraft, people would never have believed that in 2010 more than 35 million passengers would pass through the airport and that in the same year there would be over 300,000 air traffic movements. Neither would they have believed that Sir Charles Kingsford Smith's Southern Cross Fokker, which weighed just over five tons and was equipped with three 164kW engines, would be replaced by Boeing 747 aircraft weighing 442 tonnes and powered by four 74,000kW engines.

According to Sydney Airport Corporation, of the passengers passing through the airport 24 million were of domestic origin and the remaining 11½ million were international or domestic on-carriage travellers. For the year ending November 2011, of 14½ million departing domestic passengers, almost seven million travelled to Melbourne, almost 4½ million travelled to Brisbane and more than two million travelled to the Gold Coast, with generally similar numbers arriving from those places.

There are never-ending proposals to reduce aircraft movement through Sydney, the most frequent notion being that a second airport—perhaps at Wilton—would take some of the demand, or that the existing airports at Richmond or Williamstown or Canberra would take some of the traffic and allow for future growth. Not discounting the likely objections of residents in those affected areas, simply assuming that the number of aircraft movements can grow without limit in Sydney ignores the real constraints that include the need to limit carbon dioxide emissions, the effects of rising fuel prices and the high probability that demand for fuel will exceed supply in the near future.

I know Sydney needs a second airport, but in many countries high-speed trains have displaced air travel for trips of up to 650 kilometres, and this distance is rapidly increasing as train speeds rise. There is no reason that the same could not happen here in Australia. In France, for instance, air services between centres connected by high-speed rail services have been practically eliminated, and on other routes, such as London to Paris, a distance of some 340 kilometres, more than 70 per cent of passengers now travel more conveniently and safely by Eurostar trains. At two European airports, Frankfurt and Paris's Charles de Gaulle, high-speed train services allow air and rail transport to complement each other. Were the existing stations at Sydney Airport served by high-speed trains, the same level of convenience could be provided for Australian travellers.

Any expansion of existing air services in our country must rely on expensive equipment imported from either the United States or Europe. Yet modem rail equipment is still being built in Australia, and most of the material needs of a high-speed rail system could be produced here, thus reducing import bills and providing much needed jobs in manufacturing. As an example of the costs of building new services, the high-speed line between Madrid and Barcelona, a distance of some 748 kilometres over partly mountainous terrain, was completed for about $23 million per kilometre. The new trains run at an average speed of 240 kilometres per hour and, since the inception of the service, air traffic between the two cities has dropped by about 40 per cent.

Surely if a cash strapped country, like Spain is at the moment, can build a high-speed train network then Australia could and should do the same, instead of simply allowing the unsustainable expansion of already overcrowded flight paths in our skies which do much injury to the people I represent in this place. I conclude by saying again that a high-speed train network and a second airport for Sydney would provide much needed relief for the people of Reid. I commend this to the government.