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Thursday, 14 May 1970

Mr COHEN (Robertson) - Mr Speaker,this evening I wish to talk about something that has happened in my electorate in the last couple of days. This is disturbing many, many thousands of my constituents. Briefly, the history of events is that just prior to the commencement of the election campaign I heard a rumour that the site for the second international airport for Sydney was to be in the electorate of Robertson. I heard that this airport was to be in the area north of The Entrance with which, Mr Speaker, 1 know you are familiar, and that you admire and love. I managed to get one of the local newspapers to print this story. Immediately there was a rush of heated telegrams and phone calls between the then Minister for Civil Aviation, who is now Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz), and the local newspapers. These charges of mine were heatedly denied.'

Soon after I came to this House I sought an opportunity to ask a question without notice on this subject. But, in desperation, I placed, a short while ago, the following question on notice. I asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation upon notice:

(1)   Has the Department of Civil Aviation ever considered the area north of The Entrance to Toukley as a site for a second international airport?

(2)   If not, has the Department ever considered any other areas in the electoral division of Robertson?

(3)   If so, what were they? '

Without giving all the details of the answer given by the Minister to my question, I point out briefly that the Minister said in part:

One such site is located in the general area south of Toukley.

The Minister said that this site was being considered for the airport by the interdepartmental Committee set up by the Department of Civil Aviation.

This information caused a considerable concern and distress to the people who live in the electorate of Robertson and, specifically, to those people who live in the area north of The Entrance and south of Toukley.

Mr Daly - It seems a good site to me.

Mr COHEN - I have, noticed that the honourable member for Grayndler has been interjecting during my speech. 1 am most upset that he should be doing this. He spoke last night on the problem of aircraft noise. Most of the people in his electorate are leaving that electorate - for many reasons - and are coming to live in my electorate. No sooner have they arrived there - and I am sure that the honourable member for Grayndler is part of the plot - than they find they are to have an airport literally right on top of them. Having just moved away from aircraft noise they now find themselves faced with the same problem again. 1 would ask the honourable member and the House to listen to and to sympathise with the problem that we face in Robertson. Let me make it perfectly clear that we are not totally opposed to having an airport in the area, but 1 am totally opposed to the airport being constructed on a site such as the one that has been mentioned. I am hoping that the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) and his Department will reconsider this site. We hope that, as far as an airport is concerned, this site will disappear right off the map'. 1 wish to describe the site to the House. The area proposed is approximately 7 miles long, it is about half a mile wide. At the moment, this site has a most magnificent, and unique red gum forest. This forest is one of the few of this type left in Australia. At the southern end, according to the electoral roll, some 8,000 electors live. When we add to that figure the number of children in that area, its total population would be between 11,000 and 12,000. At the northern end, the electoral enrolment is 4,000. If we add another 1,500 children we find that the approximate population residing in the 2 areas is between 15,000 and 16,000. But what is more important is that many thousands of people have weekenders there. On one side is a large lake; on the other side is the beach; and in the middle is the red gum forest.

People have come to this area because of its unique beauty, its peacefulness and its tranquility. It has attracted specifically people who are of retirement age, like many honourable members on the other side of the House. They have come there to live out their last years in an atmosphere of peace and tranquility and away from the industrial smog and filth that is found in an electorate such as Grayndler. They have the opportunity to get away from that. Now this area is being considered by the Department of Civil Aviation as a possible airport site.

I want the House to consider also the hundreds of thousands of people - I am not exaggerating, because it is estimated that at Christmas time 100,000 people come to The Entrance for their holidays - who come to this area for their Christmas holidays, school holidays or weekends in order to take advantage of the natural benefits. If this development should come about, it will mean the end of that. No-one will have a fishing holiday or peace and rest in a place with screaming jumbo jets flying in over the top of them. I am told by the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones), who is probably the foremost expert on aviation and transport generally in Australia, that at least 13 miles is required for an airport - 3 miles for the actual airport itself and 5 miles on each end - and that beyond that limit the aircraft noise is tolerable but inside that limit it is quite impossible.

I mentioned before that I had had conversations with most of the civic leaders in the area, including the Wyong shire councillors. This afternoon I spoke to Councillor Barrett, who is the President of the Wyong Shire, and members of the Chamber of Commerce. As such, they are not opposed to an airport. Their attitude is quite unique. Nearly all honourable members in this chamber oppose having any airport in their electorates. The honourable member for Mitchell (Mr Irwin) becomes hysterical if anyone suggests that an airport be developed within 100 miles of Mitchell. But in my electorate we see advantages in having an airport in the electorate.

Because of the low price of land many thousands of people have come to live there. Ours is one of the few places in New South Wales or Australia today that have a large number of unemployed people. If we look at the unemployment figures we find that, after Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong, Gosford has the next highest figures. We also know that many thousands of people do not register for employment becuse they are retired, but they would like some casual employment. This development would bring to our area a large amount of employment and it would bring industry. For those reasons I intend to support the principle of the establishment of an airport in the Robertson electorate. But, as the honourable member for Grayndler is saying, where I would put it is the important question.

Honourable members who are familiar with New South Wales will know that the State Planning Authority has projected growth in the electorate of Robertson - in the Gosford and Wyong shire council areas - to half a million people by the year 2000. So it is essential that we have industry and that we have development. But the State Planning Authority, in its outline plan released in about July 1968, said that the area in which it suggested an airport should go was north of Wyong in the area known as Wyee or Warnervale. That area is about 6 or 7 miles north of Wyong. An airport there would disturb a few people, but only a very few. Quite obviously, no matter where an airport is placed someone will be disturbed. But it this airport were placed in the area north of Wyong only a few hundred people, at the most, would be distressed. If it were placed in the area north of The Entrance and south of Toukley 1.6,000 permanent residents, as well as another 100,000 people who come for their holidays and many thousands of people who have weekenders, would have to put up with the suffering now experienced by the constituents represented by the honourable members for St George (Mr Morrison), Kingsford-Smith (Mr Lionel Bowen) and Grayndler. I ask the Minister whom I did invite here tonight that for the sake of the people in the area of Robertson he immediately suggest to this interdepartmental committee that it should wipe this site out of its mind. I am going to continue to pursue this matter until we get a definite answer that this site has been completely dismissed as a site for a second airport for Sydney.

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