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Effectiveness of Airservices Australia's management of aircraft noise

CHAIR —The committee will reconvene. I welcome a number of individuals who have indicated that they would like to appear today. There are two more to come. Do you have any comments on the capacity in which you appear?

Mr Ellis —I am a member of the Jandakot Airport Consultative Committee and have been so since approximately 1990.

Mr Heath —I am a resident of Glen Forrest; that is my interest.

Mr Lipple —I am the Canning community representative on the Perth Airport advisory committee.

CHAIR —Thank you very much. Did you want to make any amendments or alterations to any submissions you have lodged?

Mr Ellis —I have got some further items, if I may. The first item to table for the committee is a submission that was made to Melissa Parke back in 2008 in relation to the then impending Jandakot Airport master plan 2009 preliminary draft, to take into account the noise component of the master plan and put it on the same equal and level footing as environmental issues. That is one item. I do not think that went anywhere; I think that got buried in the aviation green paper.

CHAIR —All right. I might get you to talk to it later. These are just the formalities now.

Mr Ellis —Okay. The next item is the Utility of general aviation and aerodrome procedures in Australian-administered airspace, a report from the Office of Airspace Regulation. There are 320 pages in total and it was presented to them by the Ambidji Group. This was the precursor to the change from GAAP to class D. The next one is a CASA document in relation to GAAP changes and what they will mean to aviators flying under the current regime of GAAP airports. The next item is the Jandakot Airport Consultative Committee minutes of 8 March, where the list of all the various members is presented and the fact that the impending change from GAAP to class D was not listed in there as an item for discussion for the community. Finally, there is a document in relation to some 20-odd S211 jet trainers that are for sale at Jandakot that are ex Singapore air force, from Pearce, and are being put on the open market for around $200,000 each—and you can bet your bottom dollar they are going to be turned into planes for joy flights. Thank you.

CHAIR —Thanks, Mr Ellis. Mrs Steemson and Mr Stewart have just joined us; welcome. Do you have any comments on the capacity in which you appear today?

Mr Stewart —I appear as a private individual.

Mrs Steemson —I also appear as a private individual.

CHAIR —I assume, probably correctly, that you would all like to give a statement. Perhaps we could start at this end. I appreciate that you want to get all the details across; but, if you could possibly keep it to just a few minutes and then allow questions from the senators, that would be appreciated. Thank you.

Mr Lipple —There are a few minor typographical errors in the brief statement I have put in. Do you want those corrected now or can they be done some other time?

CHAIR —I think some other time would be fine. We can certainly do that.

Mr Lipple —To read from my statement, my situation is that I am a retired air traffic controller. I was at Perth Airport for approximately 29 years. In that time, I operated most of the control positions, and for my final nine years with the organisation I was the manager of airspace and air traffic procedures. The reason that I am on the Perth Airport advisory committee is that the City of Melville advertised in the paper for an interested person to go on this committee, and I applied and was subsequently appointed. Since that time I have regularly attended all the meetings at Perth Airport, with a couple of exceptions, and as such I feel I am in good position to advise this Senate committee on the functionality of the advisory committee.

I do not have any axe to grind about aircraft noise. I have always tried to be objective about this matter and I have no axe to grind with Airservices Australia. I have many friends in the air traffic system and I really support the work they do. I am supportive of the City of Canning in the approach that they have taken to aircraft noise in their area. The present mayor has always taken a keen interest and has always listened to my opinion on the matters that have been dealt with by this committee, and we have had a happy working relationship. Also, I am relatively happy with the manner in which the Federal Airports Corporation has run these meetings. I have always found them cooperative, and I have obtained information that I have wanted and provided diagrams when I have wanted.

The one area that I am very critical of is the way that Airservices have conducted themselves in making changes to the airspace; the consultative process has just not been there—and that has applied right back from the time when I joined the committee. My main concern about aircraft noise was departures of heavy jets from Perth Airport out to the south-west. They would turn early and track to the west at low level across built-up areas. I have always thought that the turn was too early and that the noise generated was very excessive for operations over the metropolitan area. That was exacerbated by the fact that when the runways changed the reverse occurred. We have had heavy jets arriving on a reciprocal track down the river and turning onto the runway centre line at a very short distance out, once again generating massive noise. I have brought this matter constantly to the attention of the committee, asking for the situation to be reviewed, but I have been unable to get any action. In 2003 I put in a substantial submission to the committee about the matters in hand. The submission was accepted as correspondence but was never discussed at the committee. I repeated that action in 2005. Once again my submission was never given an airing at the committee; however, after protest from me my submissions were forwarded to Airservices, who came back with some responses.

During that period, the one major change that occurred in Perth airspace was the implementation of precision approach for runway 03 at Perth Airport. Up until 2003 there was no precision approach on runway 03, which meant it was a demanding job for air traffic control to get any traffic onto runway 03 during bad weather. When the ILS became operational it changed the traffic patterns into Perth. It meant that aircraft were being radar vectored across at a slightly further distance out, which of course would have an impact on people who live to the south of the airport.

The next major change has been the WRAPP, the Western Australia Route Review Project, which has been very poorly handled. A submission was given. Despite what people say, all the information was given to the committee over a period of time. Presentations were made by Airservices. They involved overlays and explaining how the safety authority had deemed that the air traffic system in Perth was unsatisfactory due to crossover routes at approximately 40 miles from the airport. That, coupled with major growth in traffic, necessitated a review of the air traffic system at Perth Airport. Subsequently, there was a major airspace redesign, which I believe was kicked off in around 2007.

Submissions were given but the minutes never contained documentation of the changes that were going to come up. If you were there, you got a briefing but if you were not there and just got the minutes you would have no idea that there were all these changes in the pipeline. Because the committee never bothered to take these items as business arising with ongoing review at every meeting, which took place only every three months, they dropped out of sight. It is my understanding that it was delayed because the military were not happy with the arrangement and they wanted to review the situation.

CHAIR —I am going to have to pull you up because we have to get through everybody. Could you just make some final comments. I am sure you will be able to elaborate more when questions are asked.

Mr Lipple —Fair enough. It came to pass that these changes were implemented without any notice to anybody. They were published in the aeronautical information publications in November 2008 and they became the procedures. I myself was unaware of the changes until I noticed that the aircraft arriving from the west were no longer there. The reason was that they had changed the system, sending the aircraft out to the south of the city.

As far as I was concerned, this was a fine improvement to the situation. It is only when we started to see complaints coming in from the eastern area that it became apparent that the system was unacceptable. I think a key aspect of the introduction of those changes was we never received an environmental assessment report, which is the key document to reviewing changes to procedures. I think that was an outrageous oversight.

CHAIR —Thank you, Mr Lipple.

Mrs Steemson —We purchased 24 acres in Paulls Valley 18 years ago. I investigated planned and proposed infrastructure changes to the area before we purchased. It was one of 12 small properties in the middle of the state forest. It was not under a flight path and there were no major roadworks, power corridors or subdivision proposals in the pipeline.

In the late 1990s an east-west small aircraft route was imposed with no consultation and inquiries led us to believe it was due to an increase in air traffic due to fly-in fly-out and a fair spread of noise policy. In late 2008 we suddenly had jets roaring overhead in a north-south direction and a dramatic increase in the number of helicopters. Our initial phone inquiry with ASA on 12 February was the first time we had heard of WARRP and the 18-month intensive community consultation—local meetings, local press et cetera. Phone calls to three local papers, community group leaders and local councillors confirmed no-one had heard of WARRP or the proposed flight path changes.

Subsequent calls to ASA gave me the name of our local shire representative, who had been blessed with all this consultation. On speaking with him, he acknowledged he attended all Perth Airport Noise Management Consultative Committee meetings as Kalamunda shire’s representative but flatly denied that flight path changes were ever discussed. I requested copies of the minutes and found that in two years no discussions were ever minuted as to flight path changes. It was thrilling reading!

A Department of Environment and Conservation representative has stated in the press that the impression provided by ASA was that significant changes were a long distance out—50 to 60 kilometres from the airport—and aircraft would be higher and therefore there would be less noise impact. Four other government representatives have denied that it was ever discussed at meetings.

Apparently in 2006 a dedicated portal was set up to keep us informed. Sadly, I do not have the time to comb through government department websites randomly to see if they are placing anything about anything in my life that I could be unhappy about.

There were further phone calls to ASA. On 16 March they said that CASA change the flight paths after community consultation. When they were informed that there had been no consultation, a ASA staff member laughed and said: ‘Well, it snuck in. In all things there are winners and losers.’

In desperation in May 2009 I turned to the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s office, which has legislative powers to inquire into such matters. In mid August they emailed me an apology to say they were still awaiting a reply from ASA that was due in mid July. A meeting was held with ASA and the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s office in the middle of August where ASA undertook to provide detailed written responses by 3 September. The Ombudsman’s office is still waiting. This is an old insurance industry tactic—bunker down and, if you must say something, stay on message and they will eventually go away.

Phone calls to ASA on 11 August had a staff member denying they had anything to do with flight paths. On 30 July a staff member asked me why I was so obsessed with 5,000 feet. When I replied it was the height stated in a letter written by a senior ASA official, the staff member sounded incredulous and requested a copy of the letter.

ASA has been less than truthful with the Perth public, though the aviation industry in general seems to feel it is intellectually beyond the general public. Geoffrey Thomas, National Press Club aviation ASA writer of the year winner in 2009, wrote in an email to Nicky Scrivener: ‘ASA really cannot consult as the issues are too complex for a public forum to have any meaningful input.’ I am sure the mining industry, the construction industry and the general transport industries would love to have that freedom.

Last year aircraft numbers in May went to 1,559 movements. In the previous year there were 637 for the month. Nearly 1,000 large jet aircraft are using two flight paths over my home. Having a barbecue is like a science fiction movie—you hear the roar and then you wait for the shadows to pass over you. And you do not want to know what it is like to be woken up three times in the middle of the night.

To cap it off: did they consult? No. Did PANMCC fulfil its terms of reference? No. Have ASA abided by their guidelines? No, and I have read them all. Do they require a binding charter? Most certainly. Do Perth residents require a curfew? Most certainly. I would not be here if I purchased property in Guildford or the Swan Valley because I would have known there were flight paths there. But without any consultation we have the helicopter route east, the east-west small aircraft path, two north-south large jet aircraft routes and to cap it all off, when a pilot misses the landing, we get the go round at about 600 metres above our house. Do you think that is fair and equable? I do not.

CHAIR —Thank you, Mrs Steemson.

Mr Heath —Thank you for the opportunity to present. I do not claim to have the same level of technical knowledge about runways and flight paths as others, but I am certainly concerned about the process that has been used and the relationships that exist between ASA and the Commonwealth government. I want to reiterate the point that was made here. The only reason I live where I live is for the quiet amenity of the area. My wife and I bought a property somewhere else—five kilometres away. We were concerned about the flight path so we sold at a loss to us and bought another property in Glen Forrest only on that basis. It cost us a lot of money to do that and required substantial renovation. I am just making the point that a lot of people in the hills are only there because they like the lifestyle and the tranquillity it provides.

I want to comment a fair bit about the consultation process. I will keep it as brief as possible, as I understand the intent of our address. At the heart of a democratic process is the need to inform and consult constituents on matters that substantially affect their lives. The adequacy of consultation processes should remain a Commonwealth government responsibility and be aligned to acceptable consultation practice. I recommend that the Commonwealth government require Airservices to meet consultation service standards and that the inability to meet those standards should be grounds for review of any final changes to flight paths.

Residents are substantially less likely to have the monetary resources and the time to effectively engage in consultation processes. It is recommended that consultation processes should provide an ability for residential stakeholders to independently engage relative to industry interests and that that is funded.

Airservices provide a noise complaint contact number. Whilst this service is useful as an opportunity to seek clarification and information, it is not an effective consultation strategy or an effective public engagement strategy. To consider otherwise is completely false.

I want to comment about the distancing between the responsible Commonwealth government department and Airservices Australia. It has been very interesting from my point of view that Airservices portrays itself, in the way in which they comment, as a separate entity to the Commonwealth government rather than as an agent of the Commonwealth. I think that substantially diminishes the perceptions of there being unbiased, neutral decision making processes and it diminishes avenues for objective information and rights of appeal. People feel as though they are not connected to the same sorts of rigour that are normally attached to government departments.

I also want to comment about third-party planning processes, rights of review and appeals. It is not obvious to the public that amendments to flight paths and consequent impacts on residents are subject to a rigorous planning process overseen by an independent third party. This lack of third-party involvement maximises opportunities for ineffectual consultation and planning processes and heightens the power base and the influence of Airservices Australia. It leaves you feeling as though there is nowhere to go, as we have just heard.

There is a need to address the existing power imbalance between Airservices and the rights of the public. Processes of third-party verification are considered important in such decisions as aircraft noise that have an impact on local amenity. I would recommend that amendments to flight paths be subject to rigorous planning processes overseen by third parties and that there be an obligation for the third party to be known to the public during the consultation process and that they are given the power to review the adequacy of the consultation process to ensure that available options were assessed, that the public was given the opportunity to understand and comment on the options, that the views are taken into consideration, and that the public is advised about the rationale for the final decision and any review options.

The other point I would like to make is that we all feel as though a flight path is not meant to be in our backyard. That is not the position I am taking at all. I just want to be clear about what the policy position is and what the criteria are on which a flight path is based. In my view, it is critical that policy and criteria are in place to guide the amendments to flight paths in relation to residential areas and that these are clear, unambiguous and publicly available. I was not aware of any of that information in relation to this review. So I would recommend that residential policy and planning criteria in relation to the alignment and planning of flight paths be publicly available and that there are periodic opportunities for review.

I would also like to make a distinction between those areas that previously had a flight path and were going to get more traffic to those areas where there is to be a new flight path. I think that you need to be more comprehensive, diligent and thorough in engaging with communities where there is a new flight path as opposed to areas where in the past there has been some traffic but the traffic is building up.

The other point I would like to make is about the devaluing of properties. We heard about that a bit earlier on. I do not have any evidence that it is devalued properties, but I am sure that is the case. I think it is unacceptable that residents incur a financial cost associated with an obligation on the Commonwealth to upgrade flight paths, so I would recommend that the devalued property costs be included in a cost-benefit analysis associated with proposed changes in order to more accurately reflect the true cost of changing flight paths.

In summary, I have some real concerns about the transparency and the accountability of Airservices Australia in relation to the Western Australia Route Review Project. It also seems that the responsible Commonwealth department has actively minimised its association with ASA during the process and that this distancing is in the interests of the responsible Commonwealth government department. I believe that the Commonwealth government department, through ASA, has deliberately avoided a meaningful process of public consultation and information provision in order to minimise the likelihood of opposition to their preferred plan. They have deliberately disempowered stakeholders such as residents who are less likely to support their preferred plan. In effect, I think ASA has a conflict of interest in which it has failed to manage, through a lack of risk minimisation strategies such as effective and open consultation through a third-party review.

I think the public expects that the Commonwealth government, through the agent of ASA, has at least four obligations with regard to transparency and openness during the review of flight paths. Firstly, it needs to be upfront about what the criteria and the standards are in relation to the flight paths. Secondly, it needs to release publicly information about the options and the environmental assessments. Thirdly, it needs to consult the public in an effective manner. Fourthly, it needs to provide opportunities for third-party review.

If one accepts that the Commonwealth government has a responsibility and a duty to balance environmental, commercial and residential amenity considerations when planning flight paths, then my question is: how can the Commonwealth government be confident that this has occurred in the case of the recent changes to the flight paths? For example, in relation to those four points that I spelt out, I certainly was not aware of criteria that were put forward in relation to the planning. We have noticed that there are some principles now on the ASA website, which say things like:

Principle 2: Noise should be concentrated as much as possible over nonresidential areas.

I therefore wonder why there has been a reduction over the sea. Principle 3 is:

Noise exposure should be fairly shared whenever possible.

We have a reduction that could have shared that. Interestingly, principle 11 says:

In deciding between mutually exclusive, but otherwise equivalent options, involving the overflight of an area which has previously been exposed to aircraft noise for a considerable period of time … or … a newly exposed area, option (i) should be chosen.

I do not understand why the route has been moved to over the hills and the route over the west has been reduced.

I am of the view that the Commonwealth government has not met those obligations—the criteria, the information, the consultation and the review. The question that I pose is: as a Commonwealth government, how do you ascertain whether any of those obligations have been met by ASA? I do not know what process is used for that. If the Commonwealth government is not confident that those obligations have been met, then what should they do about it? This is a critical question at this time in relation to the Western Australian Route Review Project. What consequence is there for ASA for not meeting any of those obligations from the view of the public? In light of the Commonwealth obligations that I consider apply in these cases, and ASA’s own principles, I would ask that the Commonwealth consider a recommendation that the current outcomes of the review be given a temporary status pending another review of West Australian flight paths overseen by a third party to achieve a more equitable distribution of air traffic.

There is an option that you could do nothing and not take any action against ASA, but we have been advised that traffic will increase over the area, and I can guarantee that the residents will continue to complain. I do not think that doing nothing is an option. I thank you for the time that you have taken to conduct this hearing.

CHAIR —Thank you, Mr Heath.

Mr Stewart —Thank you, Madam Chair. I thank the committee for, firstly, seeing the need for an inquiry, and, secondly and most importantly, for coming to Perth for these hearings. My submission is No. 15 and I do not wish to make any changes to it. I would hope that it would speak for itself.

I live in Roleystone, which is in the southern hills. We have talked about Chidlow, Mundaring and the like, which could be the central or northern hills. Roleystone is in the southern area. Because of WARRP, we found ourselves under three new flight paths—not two but three—two for jet aircraft and one for turboprop aircraft. We have another flight path that is three to five kilometres away.

My background is in engineering. I am a professional engineer with 38 years standing, and for 30 of those years I was the person responsible for noise-emitting premises under the Environmental Protection Act and for audiometric testing and the welfare of our employees under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. So I have a background in noise and noise analysis.

It can be seen from the submissions made already by all levels of government and private individuals and in evidence presented today that there has been a major regulatory failure by Airservices Australia. The public interest has not been served. One eminent person, Tembe QC, was talking about regulatory failure. He put it this way: ‘The cost of regulatory failure is high. Not least it is the lack of confidence in the institutions of our society.’ That is what the failure of Airservices has led us to. The integrity of Airservices has been brought into question to such a degree that nothing it says can be taken at face value.

I will not go into summarising my submission; hopefully, you have read it or got a summary of it. I would like to leave more time for questions, because I found that very stimulating. You are obviously well researched, and it was worthwhile coming to see the entertainment between Senator Sterle and Senator Heffernan! I will add to a few of those questions. The questions for John Macpherson from the Department of Environment and Conservation in Western Australia were interesting. It was Senator Adams who asked him if there is a difference between noise generally and noise in the hills. I do not think John understood the area that you are coming from, knowing that you do live in the hills. To explain it more readily: if an aircraft is flying at 2,000 feet above sea level its noise has a certain pattern. It may be in the order of 70 DBA. That aircraft turns—it does not climb; it is still at 2,000 feet ASL—and goes to the hills. The relative distance from the emitter—the aeroplane—to the receiving source, which is you in your bed, is halved. Two thousand feet ASL is 1,000 feet above ground level in the hills, particularly in Roleystone and certain other parts. So the noise level has doubled. That is a very important point.

I was going to conduct an experiment on you today. I have brought along a very simple noise level meter. I went through it yesterday at home to get background ambience and then tried to simulate the aircraft noises which are coming through from overhead at up to 70 DBA. The problem with that was that I would offend everyone sitting around the table—

Senator HEFFERNAN —It would be bloody hard to offend me!

Mr Stewart —I will put it this way: It is frightening. People have asked what it means to be woken up. The point that has been made a few times is worth repeating: an ambient of, say, 30 DBA—which we regularly get in the hills—is the reason we live there. They are dormitory suburbs. We live there for the serenity. Seventy DBA is not simply an arithmetic equation. It is not 40 and 30 to get you 70; it is some 60 times the noise. That is why you physically wake when aircraft come through at two o’clock in the morning at 1,000 feet above your head.

Senator HEFFERNAN —Why don’t you do it?

Mr Stewart —I used a vacuum cleaner.

CHAIR —In the interest of time, I think we might stick to the verbal.

Mr Stewart —To give you an idea of what 30 DBA is like is nice and simple. That is the bottom end where, as someone said, you can actually hear the silence. In this room, before anyone spoke and before we assembled today, I picked up 42 to 44 DBA. You might think that is a quiet room, but that is two or three times noisier than what we are used to in the hills as our ambient noise levels. So it is important to understand what that does in terms of a fight-or-flight response, in terms of waking or in terms of induction to heart attacks and the like. There are some Commonwealth documents explaining that and suggesting that the ANEF is a good idea that describes the noise. Those people living in ANEF 30 might be subject to health impacts. The actual level that the World Health Organisation has determined will get you a response in terms of both heartbeat and heart rate is down to 60 DBA given that you go from a very quiet ambient. So we are all being subjected to that sort of assault.

To pick up a few more questions as they came along this morning, we were talking about the existing noise levels. There are monitors around Perth airport: five permanent ones and two recently placed mobile units. Those five units are in noisy areas. We are talking about the hills, where we have our ambience around 30 DBA at night and up to 40 during the day. If you use Web Trac, which is a useful tool, you will see Cannington in particular but also other inner areas close to the airport firing off the noise monitors at 70 DBA with no aircraft. What is that? It is a truck going by or whatever. It is the high ambient. From that point of view, monitoring the hills is very important, because it will be the differential between the 30 DBA ambient and the aircraft coming over—one was pinged at 79 DBA recently, which is a horrific increase.

Senator Heffernan had a couple of questions about the premise that with another mining boom on the way there would be more aircraft and more noise. It is not necessarily so. It is the way that the aircraft are planned on their schedules. It is the elevation we are running. I spoke about the hills and why it is twice as loud in the hills as it might be on the flat even though the aircraft is flying in a steady location. Aircraft more recently have been using lower and lower degrees of ascent and descent. If you take off from the airport you can get a 10 per cent rise. After 10 nautical miles you can be one nautical mile high. In fact, they are part of noise abatement procedures that the international organisation of air carriers recommend for certain locations. Basically, you are taking off from a runway and you are out of there. You are gone. Suburbs 10 nautical miles out and further are not subject to that noise. Those sorts of procedures are in use in Europe. So it does not necessarily follow that more aircraft are more noisy. It depends on how they operate.

How does it affect your hearing? There is a World Health Organisation program called HYENA. The HY is for hypertension. It studies hypertension near airports because of the noise effect. That is very relevant recent research that is worth looking at. Is it a barbecue-stopper bill? Yes, it is, because you cannot understand what someone next to you is saying when an aircraft comes over and gives you 70 DBA. It is horrendous. That is enough. I look forward to questions. Thank you.

CHAIR —Thank you. Mr Ellis.

Mr Ellis —Thank you for the opportunity to speak here this afternoon in relation to matters pertaining to Jandakot Airport. Jandakot Airport is currently a general aviation approach and procedures airport. The airspace is being reclassified under CASA to class D. In the context of what is being said here, remember that the majority of the aircraft that use Jandakot are single-engine, piston-driven aircraft that are some 30 to 40 years old. They were bought in the seventies, when the exchange rate of the Australian dollar with the American dollar was more attractive than what it is at the moment, so we have in the country thousands of these Cessna 152s, 172s et cetera. They have been kept going for 30-odd years, but these aircraft emit the noise pressure level of that era. They are not today’s aircraft; they are yesterday’s aircraft. Noise has time, frequency and amplitude. We tried to mask that problem by creating a document called an ANEF. The ANEF was generated using the integrated noise model that was created by the Federal Aviation Authority in the United States, slightly modified for Australian conditions. We do not know what those modifications were. We have not been told.

We come down to the original DCA document that was produced in 1986. At the time, the Federal Airports Corporation was created to divest the Commonwealth of the bleeding red ink that was general aviation airports, to introduce private capital and to build these places up. If you look at the ANEF contours of that period of time, they were significant, but the one thing that is obvious when you look at that document is that it does not show the relationship of houses. It is a blank document, so it does not show where people live et cetera. Moving forward from there, we created the Federal Airports Corporation. The Federal Airports Corporation was designed to get the best dollar for the federal government of the day to get rid of these profitless airports. In doing so they went offshore—and the state was complicit in this—and invited Singapore Airlines and China Southern Airlines to set up training schools at Jandakot. They have been there for some time.

There was conflict between Singapore Flying College and China Southern because the airspace is just not big enough to cater for the two of them, so China Southern struck a deal with the Shire of Merredin in which they would pour money into the Shire of Merredin and use the Merredin council-run airport to do their circuit training. Singapore Flying College stuck around, and the primary aircraft that they used for twin-engine circuit training was Beech Baron. Beech Barons, by any measure of a person like me or anyone in the aviation industry, are some of the noisiest aircraft that have ever been produced. In concert with the uproar that took place in the community, the Federal Airports Corporation created the second runway to do circuit training. It is 24 right 06 left and 24 left 06 right. This was designed by Mike Lennon, who was the airport manager at the time, to ameliorate the noise to people by spreading and sharing it more evenly. Nothing could be further from the truth, because all they did was up the circuit training rate on twin-engine aircraft.

The issue became so dramatic that the FAC was forced into creating a community consultative process. That community consultative process was an abysmal failure. It was a very vocal set of meetings. It was almost at the point of being violent at times. It achieved absolutely nothing. The state government people of the day handling aircraft matters decided to create the flight paths and procedures review, which was chaired by eminent aviation people and involved all stakeholders. That was put forward. All the recommendations were put forward. In my submission you will see a final report from Ross Jones, who was a 720 pilot. His credentials are given. It said that the whole process was absolutely abandoned by Airservices Australia. It was just ignored. They were not prepared to venture forward to provide any relief to anyone in the community in relation to Jandakot Airport.

In doing the research for this, a letter was sent to Melissa Parke. This came about when the federal parliamentary committee came to town and they had their meeting in Canning Vale. I was given an opportunity to speak to Anthony Albanese in relation to matters pertaining to aircraft noise. He took it onboard. One person there who was more interested was a fellow by the name of Gary Gray. I chased Gary Gray down. He happens to be the member representing Rockingham. We organised a meeting with Gary Gray, Melissa Parke and the relevant councils. As a consequence of that, the objective was to create a document—the one I have here—for Melissa Parke to use in her approach to the government to recognise what needs to be done at Jandakot. In doing the research for this document, I had copy of the Sinclair Knight Mertz review that was created by the Federal Airports Corporation for the potential leaseholder for Jandakot Airport. In there it was discovered that the nominal rating of 24 right 06 left had been increased from 5,700 kilograms MTOW to 22,000 kilograms MTOW. My mind flashed back to Mike Lennon, who said, ‘We’re going to resurface the runway at the airport in line with the addition of the circuit training runway, and we are going to extend it slightly to join up with the taxiway—not a big deal.’

CHAIR —I will pull you up for a moment. We literally only have another minute or so for these because we are only going to have 20 to 30 minutes for questions, so please come to a concluding statement. We will address it again in questions.

Mr Ellis —Okay. I put this in the document, and we do not have any response to that from anybody anywhere. The main runway at Jandakot Airport has been upgraded to 22,000 kilograms illegally. It was not conducted with an EIS or anything like that, because the people we were dealing with in CPA at the time was Monica MacDonald. If she is still around, she can probably bring you up to date.

As a consequence of that, last Saturday they landed a Boeing 737 at Jandakot airport. The reason for that is that they are going to use it—it is an old Ozjet aircraft which has reached its maximum life in terms of noise emissions, airframe et cetera—as a ground training aid for licensed aircraft maintenance engineers at Jandakot. However knowing the aviation industry as I do, it would be measured to find out what the parameters are to improve the position at Jandakot airport to likely commence regular passenger transport, taking advantage of the 22,000 kilograms MTOW and the new projected fourth runway et cetera. So there are a lot of issues at Jandakot.

Just briefly touching on Airservices Australia in respect of air traffic control, they stipulate in their ANEF contours that there is a straight line algorithm in relation to aircraft departing and arriving. That could not be further from the truth. We have aircraft 30 to 40 degrees off track even before they leave the airport boundary. We have people living there that have aircraft going over their roofs at 300 feet and 400 feet. We have had situations where China Southern, using Grobs, have done simulated engine failures at about 400 feet over the rooftops of houses. The place is a basket case. It needs serious work to get it back on track.

Senator HEFFERNAN —If they altered the runway at Jandakot—and I will come to the main Perth airport in a minute—and they are able to land jets there, wouldn’t they have to invoke section 160 of the EPBC Act and have a full consultative environmental impact study before they allow that to happen?

Mr Ellis —You would think so.

Senator HEFFERNAN —They did that with the parallel runway—and I have got a letter here from Mr Steve Irons for the minister—but they have not done it at Perth. So it is a double question: they have to do it there, why haven’t they done it at Perth? Has anyone asked the question?

Mr Stewart —We asked the question at the Mundaring public meeting of Airservices Australia and got no response. I think they should have gone through at least a regulation 80 CASA report.

Senator HEFFERNAN —I will table these for the committee. Both Minister Albanese and Mr Garrett—and I do not know what he is now—

CHAIR —Environment—

Senator HEFFERNAN —he is probably still environment—said they did not get an application for the EPBC Act. It seems to me, from reading the act, that under section 160 they are obliged to do an EPBC as they did in Brisbane.

Mr Ellis —Exactly.

Senator HEFFERNAN —They are breaking the law.

Mr Ellis —They are breaking the law—exactly.

Mr Heath —I was advised informally—and I have not seen it in writing—that evidently ASA do their own internal evaluation regarding noise.

Mr Stewart —And they are responsible to the Civil Aviation Authority for regulation 80 report which goes to the federal environmental legislation, and they have not done that.

Senator BACK —So in terms of the release of public information around this issue that is a critical issue that has been raised.

Senator HEFFERNAN —The act states that before a Commonwealth agency authorises:

... the adoption or implementation of a plan for aviation airspace management involving aircraft operations that have, will have or are likely to have a significant impact on the environment ...

certain actions are required. I suggest that, if you get awakened at four o’clock in the bloody morning every morning, that is significant—everything in the house rattles and you cannot hear yourself—and would have a reasonable impact. The act simply says that you have got to have a study.

Mr Lipple —The consultative committee has asked for these things over and over and over, and they are just not forthcoming. I have been able to track down documents by my own means via the internet. I have got here the environmental assessment for the introduction of the ILS on runway 03. I have got one for August 2005 on the changes to the standard instrument departures, and I have got one here for the introduction of standard arrival procedures. But they just will not provide these documents, when it is the key to the whole thing. How can you review a thing from an environmental viewpoint if you have not had a proper assessment done?

Senator HEFFERNAN —We have some interesting questions, Madam Chair, for the department later.

Senator STERLE —I understand, Mrs Steemson, that you made your position very clear on how you see a fix. That is a curfew, and that is one thing, and we hear all the problems leading up to it. Mr Stewart, was I right in saying that in your view the boom will not increase air traffic—that it can be done smarter?

Mr Stewart —Yes. I am employed by the mining industry and two of my children are directly employed by it. One of them is a geologist at a mine site. He FIFOs Perth to the mine on an eight and six roster. There are two approaches. One is what they use in Denver. Denver, where we had an office for a few years, is one of the mining centres in the USA. It has been through a mining boom; it has been through oil and gas booms. Denver has changed its airport three times in the last 30 years. That is something we might want to consider.

Senator STERLE —How have they changed it?

Mr Stewart —They have moved it. They moved it 10 miles out, then 20 miles out and now 40 miles out, and they are way over on what they call the Front Range.

Senator STERLE —So your view is that it will not be a problem if there is a boom if we move the airport.

Mr Stewart —There are two things, and that is the first. Secondly, if we use noise abatement procedures, which include high rates of climb or greater rates of descent, what we would be doing is moving the source of that noise further away from the sensitive receivers, the population. If we were to allow takeoffs to go at five per cent or 10 per cent, the noise would not be a problem by the time they got to the hills area, where effectively their elevation is reduced by 1,000 feet because they have just crossed over the scarp. They would be twice as high in the sky as what they are now and the noise would be half as much. So, yes, you can have your boom and you can have twice as much—

Senator STERLE —Why aren’t airlines doing it now then?

Mr Stewart —I would suggest it is cost. The envelope for efficiency in terms of fuel is slightly better, although you have to look at the cost. I have talked about the cost directly due to failure, but we also have to talk about the cost of the health issue. There are methods in international airports where, firstly, aircraft operators are fined because of the noise. Apparently that does not work too well because they just pay the fine and get on with it. Secondly, they do an assessment which values the awakening—that is to say, you are woken and jump out of bed—at 60c an awakening and then do a cost-benefit analysis. I do not think that works very well in terms of your health—if it is worth 60c every time you are woken up in the middle of the night!—but that is another approach to it. I suggest that we could pay that 60c per awakening in the slightly additional fuel cost to do a 10 per cent departure and cut the noise in half for the vast population of Perth, no matter where you fly.

Senator HEFFERNAN —Or, with modern communications, use Air Force airspace. We live in the space age. For God’s sake, you have all that airspace there that is vacant most of the day.

Mr Stewart —They seem to be able to do it in Darwin, Townsville and other places.

Mr Ellis —Stuart Devenish was the Canning representative before he moved down to Armadale. He went toe to toe with CASA and Airservices Australia about changing the arrival angle from two degrees glide slope to three degrees glide slope. That argument went on for nine months and it was deemed to be unsatisfactory because it changed the ICAO values that are applied to every airport around the world.

Senator BACK —Mrs Steemson, in your submission you made reference to Mr Moore from Airservices. I think the statement is—and I am keen to know what the origin of it is—that people living under the new north-south track along the eastern hills would not notice or be inconvenienced by the changes because they are second-class citizens.

Mrs Steemson —I think his term was ‘a few rural communities’. He did not call us second-class citizens but he implied, ‘It doesn’t matter that plans are flying overhead at 3,000 feet—they’re just a few rural communities.’

Senator BACK —My understanding is that you made contact with the ombudsman, presumably regarding this particular comment by him.

Mrs Steemson —No, I contacted the ombudsman because I could not get any direct answers from ASA personnel noise inquiry staff.

Senator BACK —Have you heard yet from the ombudsman?

Mrs Steemson —He and I are in regular contact. He regularly rings me and says, ‘I’m still waiting for a reply. I have reminded them of my legislative powers to inquire into these matters and they have refused to provide written answers.’

Senator BACK —How recently have you spoken to him?

Mrs Steemson —I spoke to him in mid-February this year, and they were due to reply to him by 3 September 2009, after a meeting.

Senator BACK —Paulls Valley would be, how far from the airport; 30 kays?

Mrs Steemson —Paulls Valley is in a line directly south from Glen Forrest going onto Roleystone. It would be 20 kays from the airport, due east.

Senator BACK —Thank you. Mr Heath, you were referring to Airservices and continually referring to a Commonwealth government department separate to Airservices. Which department were you referring to?

Mr Heath —I was making the point that, in the information I got, it was very difficult to clearly establish which government department Airservices Australia were acting on behalf of. In meetings, my sense was that they represented as a separate entity and, consequently, you do not feel as though you have avenues to voice your concerns. That was my point.

Senator BACK —Having been a CEO of both a government statutory authority and a government department, I am well aware of the accountability to the minister. Are you saying to the committee that you feel that Airservices, because it is a statutory authority, in some ways does not have accountability to the people through the minister?

Mr Heath —It seems that way. I wrote to the minister and have not got a reply. Other people have said that there is an overemphasis on trying to push everything through Airservices Australia and there does not seem to be publicly available information that says, ‘If you’re not happy with the service or the contact you’ve got with Airservices Australia, here’s where you go.’ Everybody says they get blocked. That is my concern about that. Who do we approach within that government department if we are not happy with that service? It seems as though all roads go back to Airservices Australia and you are snookered.

Senator BACK —You made the observation that you were not yet aware of any changes in property values but, Mrs Steemson, you indicated in your submission that you can document it.

Mrs Steemson —We had a property valuation in 2008 and one subsequently, and there has been $400,000 knocked off the property. It may well be the GFC and all the rest of it, who knows, but the fact that you have jets flying overhead at 3½ thousand feet every 3½ minutes does not really help.

Senator BACK —You needed to be careful when you got the agent out there to do the valuation for you, I imagine.

Mrs Steemson —I got three valuations.

Senator BACK —Mr Stewart, you refer to the concept of regulatory capture in your submission. Could you take us through the processes and where you feel that is evidence of failure of the process of consultation?

Mr Stewart —Certainly. I think the difficulty is a historical one with the predecessor of CASA, CASA itself and Airservices. If we just look in the narrow area of the environmental legislation, not only is there an obligation for Airservices to go to the environmental and biodiversity act and provide evidence for the change, there is a requirement by CASA placed upon Airservices to fill out a regulation 80 noise information sheet. Those two organisations are from the same parent, spawned by the same body if you like, and they capture one another in some sort of terrible embrace. It has not been done; that information is not publicly available. It has been asked and requested but has been denied. I am suggesting that the aviation industry is an interesting one. It is sexy, if you like, it is travel, it is new destinations and it is big money and everyone loves to fly somewhere.

Senator HEFFERNAN —We all know what the problem is such as $400,000 on your house. What is the solution? Are we going to share the noise more equitably, or do away with planes or get rid of the airports?

Mr Stewart —My solution is to put it another way. Were the airline industry any other industry, it would be fined and prohibited from operating by the state’s environmental protection act noise regulations.

Senator HEFFERNAN —So we are going back to a horse and cart.

Mr Stewart —Not at all. We are getting them into a framework where they can be obliged to look after the environmental consequences by legislation that enforces them to do the right thing, whether it be in consultation or organise routes where the noise is not excessive. At the moment they can do what they like, effectively, and have done so.

Senator BACK —Staying with this regulatory capture, you make the point that, thirdly, the deepest level is so complete that Airservices, the regulator, has assisted the regulated, the airport operator, ‘to defeat the public consultation phase of the regulatory regime’ by charging the airport operator, via its PANMCC, with the public consultation role of ASA. What you are actually saying is that the regulator has devolved to the regulated and therefore effectively excluded the community from the process of contact back to and accountability from ASA. Is that what you are saying?

Mr Stewart —Yes, and I believe that process was deliberately set up to fail, and Senator Heffernan has commented on that. You have also heard from many members of PANMCC who were bewildered by the approaches of ASA. Some of them did not know there was a Western Australian Route Review Project underway.

Senator BACK —You have said here ‘the airport operator, WAC, via its PANMCC’. Who set up PANMCC and to whom does PANMCC report?

Mr Stewart —I believe the Westralia Airports Corporation is the secretariat and runs and chairs the PANMCC. As for who set it up, I think we heard evidence earlier today it was a requirement of the minister, going back to the nineties.

Senator BACK —So the regulated party set up the committee to review and effectively act as the stopgap for community consultation?

Mr Stewart —I believe it was a requirement of the minister. However, the regulated, as in the Westralia Airports Corporation, runs the secretariat and chairs the PANMCC, which seems to be an unusual beast. Information either does not get there or it goes around and does not come out again. Similarly with the noise inquiry unit, who provides that information to the Perth Airport noise consultative committee, who does nothing with it.

Senator HEFFERNAN —Connected to the sewer!

Senator SIEWERT —I want to follow up the submissions around Jandakot and then Perth Airport. Mr Ellis, in terms of Jandakot, we are already going through or have just been through an environmental assessment process for some of the expansion activity down there. If I recall correctly, in an answer to a question I asked they said the project for an additional runway there is supposed to go through another assessment process. But if I correctly understand what you are saying, there could potentially be a further expansion of use and flights by heavier aircraft without even bothering to go through a process of assessment for another runway because they have already resurfaced it and are using it to bring in bigger planes. Is that correct?

Mr Ellis —I will try and project it forward, in terms of my thinking. Currently we have a runway illegally running at 22,000 kilograms. They are going to build a fourth runway, which is going to be a circuit-training runway—

Senator SIEWERT —That is the one that still has to go through a further assessment?

Mr Ellis —It still has to go through a regulatory process. But, in doing so, they will lengthen the adjacent 1230 runway and harden it with bituminised concrete. Then, lo and behold, you have got two runways that are capable of carrying 22,000 kilograms, and you will find that they will have turboprop, regular passenger transport moving out of there within five years.

Senator SIEWERT —Do I take the implication from that that they are eyeing off FIFO, fly-in fly-out, from Jandakot as well as from Perth Airport? Is that what the residents suspect is going to happen?

Mr Ellis —That is my take on it.

Senator STERLE —That is just your thought?

Mr Ellis —Yes.

Senator SIEWERT —That is what I am asking: is that what the residents fear?

Mr Ellis —You only have to look at what Adelaide Airport and Bankstown Airport are doing, and these private airport operators communicate with one another. You can see it. I would put my last dollar on it, that this is where they are going to go.

Senator SIEWERT —Have you raised these concerns through the current process that is being undertaken?

Mr Ellis —Absolutely.

Senator SIEWERT —What has been the response?

Mr Ellis —Nothing so far from anybody.

Senator SIEWERT —There has been no acknowledgement of the fact that the runway has been upgraded to take the extra weight and that in fact bigger planes have already been landed there?

Mr Ellis —Absolutely nothing from anybody. It has just gone into a big hole in the ground.

Senator SIEWERT —I have a couple of questions on Perth. Mr Heath, you are not on the committee consultation process, are you? I am wondering about the ability of the committee to think outside the box. In other words, when they are talking about noise issues, has there been any discussion of the issues around the exclusion zone, which Senator Heffernan and others have raised? Mr Stewart, you have touched on this. Could there be any compromise so that there could be some arrangement where you could start using that space in an agreed process? It seems to me that one of the big problems we have in Perth is that great big exclusion area. Could there be some sort of compromise approach where some of that space is used? Has that ever been discussed?

Mr Lipple —It comes up regularly. Usually the concept is put down by the air traffic control representative from Perth, who is au fait with the complexities of the situation, which I can endorse. The bulk of the nine years I spent in management was negotiating with the Air Force for more satisfactory use of the airspace. It is just impossible to negotiate with the Air Force because of the hierarchical structure of it. Anything that might be agreed locally is always hit on the head by the time it gets to Canberra. It is a situation that really does need a review. They have got too much airspace and they do not use it wisely. That is my opinion.

Senator SIEWERT —Mr Stewart or Mr Heath, as I understand it—and from evidence we heard earlier—there are monitoring stations at Chidlow but there is nothing in the rest of the hills. Is that correct?

Mr Stewart —That is correct.

Senator SIEWERT —Mr Lipple, has it ever been brought up at the consultation committee that they have got two monitoring stations on the flat—only one of which is working at the moment, as I understand it, at Chidlow? Has that ever been brought up? Why, in your community’s understanding and from the committee’s point of view, aren’t there monitoring stations in the hills to pick up the issues Mr Stewart has raised?

Mr Lipple —I bring up this topic at just about every meeting but it is never reflected in the minutes that come out. Many of the statements that people make in that committee are just not recorded in the minutes. As a result of that, they just drop off. The next meeting comes three months later and it may be different people and there is no basis for a substantial business arising so that these things can be followed through.

Senator HEFFERNAN —Isn’t that the fault of the committee? Why don’t you jam it up the committee and say you want all this stuff—

CHAIR —Senator Heffernan, Senator Siewert has the call.

Senator SIEWERT —You might as well answer his question. I am used to him butting in.

Mr Lipple —I do. I try my very best to hammer these subjects. I have put in written submissions and they do not go outside the committee. There is a very, very strong case for some sort of noise monitor to the west of the field, because there is heavy jet traffic coming and going, day and night. We have a situation after midnight now where you can get one heavy jet departure after another, and the noise level is horrendous, I can tell you, as a person that lives in that area. It would be all right if there were just one of them, but you can get as many as four departures, one after another.

Senator STERLE —To the west?

Mr Lipple —To the west.

Senator STERLE —What suburb are you in?

Mr Lipple —I have lived in the area for 20-odd years. I have been in Shelley and I am currently in Riverton. Over that period of time, I have been able to see firsthand what the development of the traffic has been.

Senator STERLE —To the north or the south?

Mr Lipple —To the south-west of the airport.

Senator STERLE —When you said west, I thought all the people in Dalkeith might be sharing the pain.

Mr Lipple —They do.

Mrs Steemson —Not as much as they used to.

Mr Lipple —The departure track in fact goes off and it essentially goes centrally down the river and it does affect them, according to the altitude of the aircraft. This does seem to be a key, because some aircraft do not climb like I am sure they could. There is a levelling off at perhaps 2,000 to 3,000 feet to go past the metropolitan area, and it generates considerable noise. In my opinion, the noise problem to the south-west of the airport is just as serious as and perhaps even more serious than that in the hills, because there are so many people affected, day in and day out. I have tried to bring this to the attention of this committee. I have written reports and I have put in submissions, which are just ignored.

Senator HEFFERNAN —You can come and live at my place. I can just see the vapour trail. Can I just say, though: amend the minutes. If the minutes are not accurate, amend the bloody minutes when you approve them.

CHAIR —Senator Siewert has a final question before I go to Senator Adams.

Senator SIEWERT —I want to just finalise on this monitoring station. The committee has been asking for it for a while. Mrs Steemson, have you requested that monitoring be done in that part of the hills that is not currently being covered?

Mrs Steemson —I have requested our representatives to request a monitoring station, not particularly for Paulls Valley but for Bickley, which gets really hammered, and nothing has happened. But all of this is recent for us. These guys have been at it for—

Senator SIEWERT —I am not making an accusation. I am just trying to find out—

Mrs Steemson —Yes, we have requested.

Senator SIEWERT —what the status is and what reasons you have been given.

Mrs Steemson —But apparently it is very difficult to find a secure place. It is very difficult to find this; it is very difficult to find that. You know: they do not want to know.

Mr Heath —Even if you do have a monitoring station, what is the implication of that if you are not clear what the obligation is and what action is going to be taken when someone exceeds whatever standard you set? You can have a hundred of the damn things. If you do not have any power to then have some consequence against the organisation and be clear what the standard is—

Senator HEFFERNAN —First you have to know just what the result is.

Mr Heath —I accept that, but it seems that we are dealing with an organisation that is not willing in the provision of information or in the openness in which the options that they choose to exercise get reviewed.

Senator HEFFERNAN —God looks after those that look after themselves.

Mr Ellis —The issues relating to your question are in my submission. But also there is a heavy emphasis here on Perth Airport. Jandakot Airport should not be discounted in relation to aircraft noise. We do not have any noise-monitoring stations. We have jet aircraft, ex-military aircraft, using the place for adventure flights. We have a horrendous noise problem. The outer circuits of Canning, Melville and Cockburn are subject to light aircraft overhead flights, 12 in a circuit, 10 hours a day, at 1,500 feet. It just goes on and on and on. You can go to the Jandakot Airport committee meetings, and they will dispense with you by some arrangement to say that, yes, this is this and that is that. The aircraft are taking off. They are landing. It is a safety issue. We do not have control over that. The pilot in command has control. We cannot tell him what to do. It just goes on. It is the great big white smoke game—appalling.

Senator ADAMS —Mr Stewart, on the noise again, as far as water goes, does the height of the hills and flying over some of the areas that have water increase the noise? Or does the noise increase with the valleys? You have a number of valleys running through.

Mr Stewart —It will increase the noise. In a recording studio they try to simulate an anechoic chamber, where the room itself will absorb the noise; it is very textured. For instance, in this room the curtains will absorb a lot of the noise. Compare that to a surface of water. Acoustically it is very hard, so the noise will reflect off that. It is a similar effect to what you have in an amphitheatre. A valley is perhaps like the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, in that the noise can be amplified.

However, those effects are relatively small in the overall context—we might be talking about a couple of decibels, whereas we are generally speaking from around, say, 30 to 70 decibels. Localisation effects, including wind, which would probably have the most effect, might throw ambience up to three decibels compared to the environmental effect of the aircraft coming through, which is 70. So it does have an effect. It can be picked up by the human ear. Of course the decibel scale is something like the Richter scale. It is not an arithmetic scale, and six decibels is a doubling of the noise. So when you heard it over water you would probably say, ‘Gee, that’s probably about half as loud again as the other.’ So it is a 50 per cent increase, if you like.

Senator ADAMS —Mr Ellis, on the situation at Jandakot, what is the take of the owners of Jandakot Airport on larger aircraft coming in and the rest of what is going on? Can you get anything from them?

Mr Ellis —Under Jandakot Airport Holdings version one there was reasonable dialogue between the community and Anne Watson, who was the airport manager at the time. Since Jandakot Airport Holdings version two, which is an investment company, the dialogue has crashed. There is no conversation at all. We went for 18 months without a consultative committee meeting. The last consultative committee meeting, which I could not attend because I had to take my grandson for a hearing test, the only one I could get into at the time, lasted for 15 minutes.

Senator HEFFERNAN —Is that a foreign company?

Senator ADAMS —Yes, South African.

Mr Ellis —Yes, a foreign company. They simply do not care. No-one at Jandakot cares about the consequences of what the airport does to the community around them—not Jandakot Airport Holdings, CASA or Airservices. We are totally and utterly ignored.

Senator O’BRIEN —Mr Heath, you referred us to Airservices’ fundamental principles for minimising the impact of aircraft noise. Are you satisfied with those principles? You said they were not being applied. Are those principles ones that we should look at as being a reasonable representation of the principles that should be applied in this area?

Mr Heath —Thanks for that question. This is what happened in the public meeting that we had at Mundaring. I know that you are assuming that we have done some work—I have probably done the least; I do not have the technical background—but there is an inference that if the public cannot come up with the right technical solutions then there is some problem with us. The onus of responsibility should really sit with independent technical experts who advise and say, ‘This is a set of acceptable principles around aviation flight planning principles.’ I have chosen those because they highlight to me that those principles seem to be counter with what has actually happened in practice.

Senator O’BRIEN —I understand that you might say, ‘I’m not sure what 40 Leq or 60 Leq mean,’ in terms of impact. There are other principles there that are more general.

Mr Heath —Yes. From my point of view, air traffic should be shared rather than it just being about the lowest number of people. Yes, I would support that sort of thing. I would support the principle that you would tend to opt for an existing flight path rather than another. The underlying message that I am trying to convey is that the development of solutions should be a technical option and then people should be told about those options. I do not know what options Airservices Australia were looking for.

Senator O’BRIEN —Isn’t it a fair way of approaching it, from the point of view of public administration, to say, ‘It is hard to have a rule for every case that applies’? There has to be some discretion where aviation safety and the management of all this intersects.

Mr Heath —By all means.

Senator O’BRIEN —As you say, the general public would agree with that philosophical approach to the regulation of the intersection of a public good and a public nuisance. If we were looking at these principles—perhaps you would want to take this away—are there any suggestions you would make? For example, principle 4 says:

No suburb, group or individual can demand or expect to be exempt from aircraft noise exposure.

Mr Heath —Again, I am not saying that I am the expert who knows what these principles should be. I am just saying: let’s be clear about the set of principles; let’s be open about them and then apply them when you are developing your options.

Senator O’BRIEN —And perhaps test the outcomes.

Mr Heath —That is even better still, and then having people held against those principles—that is, the third party. There needs to be some independent party that makes that judgment. When we were at the meeting at Mundaring it was very clear that the vast majority of residents had a concern, but none of us could really understand, and I am sure you are finding it difficult to come to grips with some of the flight paths and the way in which the information is presented. I do not think the onus should sit with us to be able to interpret that or make those sorts of decisions. There should be processes in place that set up transparency and accountability and do not build a structure that allows the corporation to hold so much control over what those ultimate options are going to be.

Senator O’BRIEN —I wanted to test this, given that you mentioned it. I could see that there were principles that seem quite reasonable. Some are more technical than I am familiar with, but—

Mr Heath —The interesting thing from my point of view is that I do not know what options were on the table and I do not know whether those principles were applied to evaluate those options—do you?

Senator O’BRIEN —I am certain that none of us know all of the options that were on the table.

Mr Heath —But even if we saw the options, do we know what principles are being applied to evaluate the options?

CHAIR —It is something we will look into very closely. You have raised a very good point.

Mr Stewart —The principles as they stand are fine. They are laudable, but they are more honoured in the breach and therein lies the problem: no-one is holding Airservices Australia accountable.

CHAIR —It does seem that this lack of accountability is one of the key issues.

Mr Stewart —Our local member, the member for Canning, described Airservices Australia as the most arrogant organisation he has ever had to deal with and I would second that.

Senator STERLE —I would describe him as the same.

CHAIR —Senator Sterle, we are not going down that road.

Mr Ellis —Here is a recent document. It is entitled GAAP Changes—to go from GAAP to class D. This is addressed to airmen.

FACT 6: Pilots are not permitted to turn early after take off, without ATC—

Air Traffic Control—

clearance, for a number of reasons. The Civil Aviation Regulations require aircraft to reach 500 feet above ground level (AGL) after taking off before a turn is made.

The kicker in there is that Jandakot is at 90 feet, so when you set your altimeter on an aircraft you take into account the 90 feet compensation factor. At Jandakot it is 400 feet. These are the things that you dig out of the system. If this is changed by local procedures, the local procedures should be complied with or should be amended by air traffic control. You can do what you want locally, as long as air traffic control is happy with it.

CHAIR —Thank you, Mr Ellis. Can I thank you all. It has been extremely useful having you here this afternoon. We do appreciate your evidence and you giving us your time.

[1.47 pm]