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Wednesday, 15 September 1971
Page: 1357


Mr GRAHAM (North Sydney) - 1 compliment the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz) on the statement that he delivered to the House of Representatives this evening. I should like to pay a tribute to the interest in civil aviation which has been taken by my colleagues in the House. I am well aware that there is an emotional content, particularly for the honourable member for St George (Mr Morrison), in this matter. His electorate rs very close to the Sydney Airport and, as I know from personal experience, having been privileged to represent the electorate of St George in the 19th, 20th and 22nd Parliaments of the Commonwealth, that a growing concern was being reflected in the considerations, particularly of the local government authorities in that electorate, of the effect of noise from the Sydney Airport. The problems about which the honourable member has spoken are human problems; their solution is vital to the good of New South Wales, to the local government authorities and to thousands of people living in the great metropolis of Sydney. One can have only sympathy for the intense arguments, the anxiety and the emotional approach that the honourable member, who was formerly His Excellency in a diplomatic sense, has put forward.

I feel that in discussing this matter, it is wise to look towards the future. I have made one or two notes that I feel may be of significance in the consideration of what the future holds for the city of Sydney - the great metropolis. Honourable members are probably well aware, as most of them receive reports from the State Planning Authority in New South Wales, that it is envisaged that by the year 2000 there will be approximately 5 million people resident within the city of Sydney and its close environs. There is not much doubt that the development of Sydney will spread both north and south, to Newcastle and to Wollongong and that, therefore, there will be a great concentration of people in that area. However, transport costs are vital in considering the significance of the development of civil aviation in Australia and, at this stage. I think lt is wise to refer to the present economic position and to problems faced by the international airlines operating into the great complex of the Sydney Airport. As honourable members have mentioned, the Sydney Airport already represents an investment of $167m.

The problem facing international air transport is that rising costs for research and development of aircraft and for engines has led to an international situation in which companies purchasing modern aircraft have been forced into great borrowings which they have to service and which are provided by international banking consortia. These companies have been unable to maintain their profits over recent years and there now exists a situation in which an enormous number of companies, international companies in particular, are suffering great financial strain. They are losing money and they are likely to suffer economic collapse unless steps are taken to stabilise the international industry. The only thing that can be done, of course, is to rationalise the industry and to use the International Civil Aviation Organisation in such a way as to protect from unfair competition those people who have vast investments in the airlines. Governments throughout the world are investing enormous sums of money in the infrastructure that is necessary to support the international civil airline industry and a manifestation of many of these problems can be seen in Australia.

As has been stated, it will cost about $200m or $300m to develop the new Sydney airport. Honourable members can rest assured that the more delay that takes place, the greater is the likelihood of the ultimate cost being higher because, as time passes, so inevitably costs will tend to rise - labour costs, land costs, the pressure of people and so forth. This is illustrated in many of the decisions that have been made by Labor Party governments in New South Wales. It is to be seen in places like Kurnell. Perhaps the classic illustration is the famous Opera House which a former Premier thought would cost £5m and which will cost something of the order of $100m. Inevitably, this must be the story of the future. As has been said by the Minister, there is no likelihood that any government will move away from Sydney airport No. I being located where it is today.

Historically, the original decisions were made in 1929 by Mr Scullin and again by the late Mr Chifley,; as Prime Minister, and his colleagues in the 1947 period when it was known full well that there would be jet aircraft. Jets were flying at that time - aircraft such as the Meteor and the Vampire. It was obvious to all associated with the Government of the day - the adviser? in the Department of Civil Aviation and people in the industry itself - that jet aircraft would be using Sydney Airport, Melbourne Airport and other Australian airports. This problem will continue into the future but there is always the possibility of a technical breakthrough which will lead to a commercial development of the short take off and landing and the vertical take off and landing aircraft. This could lead to a situation in which there would be less demand for the existing concept of the international airport, with vast areas of land, of concrete runways and so forth.

When we look at the rate of technological development in aviation over the last 15 years or 20 years, we must recognise that this field of activity is advancing at an ever increasing rate and that every likelihood exists that by 1980 to 1985 the whole present picture will have altered considerably. One would hope that, if this is the case, the Government - sapient as it is. economic as it is and, as my colleague from Wentworth (Mr Bury) reminds me, always aware of the fact that the funds of taxpayers must be husbanded with great care - would best be in the position where it had not committed itself to the expenditure unnecessarily of vast sums of money. One must proceed with caution in all of these matters and. with good sense of pro priety, be prepared to take advantage of the technological advances that may be forthcoming.

Personally, 1 would find some regret if the present location of the Royal Australian Air Force station at Richmond were to be interfered with. Having been the President of the Officers Mess at that Royal Australian Air Force station in 1948, I have a personal feeling for that area of land. I say this to those who think in terms of the development of civil airports: I have never known of any civil airline captains who were altogether happy about large blue hills pretty close to airports. I can see the faces in this place of some who understand exactly what I mean. Speaking from personal experience, I can assure the House that hills, if they are close to aerodromes, can be difficult.

In the light of these factors, I have no doubt that the proposed committee will proceed as it must with its inquiries. The most vital thing from the point of view of the . House of Representatives is that the Government of New South Wales will have every opportunity to allow the local government authorities which function under the Minister for Local Government to put a point of view. That point of view probably will be a difficult one for governments to handle. I have no doubt myself, however, that although people object to the noise that comes from airports these local government authorities - I would say to the honourable member for St George - are not above taking advantage of certain commercial circumstances that may emerge from time to time. I think that the honourable member may be well advised to talk to the members of the municipal councils at Hurstville and Rockdale and to examine their future projects, particularly those over the next 3 years or 4 years, to see whether he can make some interesting discovery which may lead him to believe that they may have a certain measure of tongue in cheek when they are critical of the Department of Civil Aviation and the Federal Government in this matter.

I hold the view that people close to airports will always seek to take advantage of cheap land. This has been seen before. It has been illustrated perfectly in Melbourne where pressure has been put on State

Government authorities by local government authorities and areas of land that were to be kept free around Tullamarine airport now have been developed by developers and purchased for houses. They are seeking to take advantage of the position there. There will always be people who will wish to live close to airports. They will want homes and they will put up with all the noise that is to be suffered. If some commercial advantage can be gained, honourable members can rest assured that there will be some people - a limited number by all means - who will take advantage of those circumstances.

Therefore, when the Minister made reference to an outside concept, the statement that so many Fokker Friendship aircraft would be needed to service international airports some distance from a capital city led me to wonder whether it was a reasonable contention that aircraft of this type should be considered in relation to a project that might be looked at having regard to the requirements for 1980-1985,

I believe that the time will come when the establishment of an enormous aircraft complex at places like Dubbo and Narromine may be a great deal more feasible than it is in 1971. It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that by 1985 this will be a great deal more feasible. 1 also think that aircraft of the appropriate type which will bring people into the great capital cities from areas such as those in the same way as a taxi takes a person home after he alights from a train at Central Station can be developed. It all depends, as I say, upon the aircraft which are designed for specific functions. The Canadians are going into this field in a big way. There is an aircraft called the De Havilland DHC7, which is the STOL aircraft of the future and which is capable of operating from airstrips of 2,000 feet. Airstrips of that size are quite small. This aircraft can carry 48 passengers and has 4 turbo-prop engines. It is an ideal sort of commuter aircraft that can be used over distances of up to 120 miles.

I hope that the House will be cognisant of the fact that the proposed committee will go to work when the recommendations are put up. We will need to try to avoid being parry political in this matter. We must try to be sympathetic to those who will suffer because of the decision that will be made. But, in the ultimate, it is the public interest which must be the cardinal and paramount consideration. What is in the best insterests of the people of the great metropolis of Sydney will be in the best interests of the people of Australia. I hold the view that political parties will need to recognise this fact. Frankly, I have never really found an Australian who has toid me that he changed his voting pattern and voted for party A instead of party B because of a certain amount of noise that came from a jet engine or something of that nature.







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