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Wednesday, 15 September 1971
Page: 1359

Mr Lionel Bowen (KINGSFORD-SMITH, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Smith) - Mr Deputy Speaker, I represent the area of the Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport. Let me put on record that this report is a tragedy. It is a direct denial of the interests of the people in that area. This has been fought as an election issue. Let me say here that that is the real issue. Firstly, the Liberal Party-Country Party complex seeks to say: 'This is what you are going to get in this area'. I hope that the Government loses 2 seats because of this attitude. One will be the seat of Cook and the other will be the seat held by Mr Speaker. Neither of the representatives of these seats is to blame. The Government itself must bear the responsibility.

Here we have a report of 15 pages. The first 7 pages are devoted to reasons why Kingsford-Smith Airport should be retained. No opportunity was given for any member of this House to present any evidence to this so-called intellectual committee. Who comprised this committee? It comprised public servants and experts. Whom did they see in the area? What do they know about the feelings of people? I have here an unsolicited letter dated 8th September from a constituent, Mr Lesue, of 87 Hardie Street, Mascot. He states:

These last 6 weeks we have had no let up both with incoming and outgoing aircraft and believe me tonight they have been going out at the rate of one every 3 minutes. I have noticed that Mr Morris our State Minister of road transport has openly stated that anything over 80 decibels is dangerous to the people's health.

In the final paragraph of his letter, he asks whether it is not about time that some direct action were taken and that the people of Kingsford-Smith - the people in my electorate - virtually stormed on to the tarmac and occupied the whole of the terminal area to show some form of protest.

How political is the Government as a government? Let us look at what was in the original submission. In 1965, the Government set up a committee to investigate a second airport for Sydney. The period of gestation here should have given birth to an elephant. Instead it is something like a premature squab with a terminal illness. What has happened as a result of the work of this committee? There is no result at all. We now must put up with Kingsford-Smith Airport until 1980. We should consider also that the Sydney regional plan of 1967 stated: 'The Commonwealth Government is planning further airport facilities elsewhere. Of course, in 1968 the Government was advised by the Department of Civil Aviation that 'elsewhere' was Towra Point, but that upset the honourable member for Cook (Mr Dobie). Good luck to the honourable member for Cook, but he happened to be on what might be termed the winning side in this political arena because he then got the former Prime Minister, Mr Gorton, incredibly to make an announcement at Mascot Airport before he left for an overesas visit. On 29th March 1969 he said:

The community noise problem involved in the operation of jet aircraft in the Towra Point area would be so severe, that the Minister for Civil Aviation has advised me that he has decided to direct the inter-departmental Committee, convened to consider the future airport needs of Sydney, to exclude this site from its consideration.

That was the issue. Jet aircraft noise was affecting so many people that the Department said it would not extend the airport any more. We now come to a report that says that the obvious thing to do is to put parallel runways into Sydney (KingsfordSmith) Airport. How hypocritical is the Government? There are 250,000 people in the eastern suburbs. I think there are 100 hospitals, some 200 schools and every other facility we need, yet the Government will destroy them with noise. They were there before the air port. Let us not have this idiotic argument that Scullin thought about it. This is getting back to the days of the steam tram or- something. He had no idea of what the issues would be. This is what is put up here from some bureaucrat in a Public Service position who says that this is what should happen.

Let roe put it on the line from the point of view of the Opposition. We will fight the next election on this issue and we will say that when we tried to debate it here the honourable member for Cook and others - including the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) - did not have the courage to give us a chance to do so. lt is a lot of hocus-pocus to suggest that we are dealing with the interests of the people. We are not; we are dealing with vested interests only. Perhaps the shareholders in Ansett Transport Industries Limited have more say in what goes on than does any member of Parliament or anyone else. Tullamarine is an outstanding disgrace from the point of view of what could be termed secret commissions for land development having regard to the Tullamarine Estates Pty Ltd. The Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works should be looked at by the Commissioner of Taxation. Honourable members opposite know very well that this is true. They should have a look at that sort of development.

There is not one airport in Australia that meets world standards. Honourable members should look at Sydney (KingsfordSmith) Airport from that point of view. It is the thirty-third largest airport in the world and that is not bad going seeing that it is on 1,500 acres when most other airports in the world take up 10,000 or 15,000 acres. World statistics show that 10,000 to 15,000 acres are required for an airport. Let me put it on record that I do not favour Somersby or Richmond because we cannot get the area required in those places. I am amazed to think that everybody thinks we are saying that. What should be said is that we need 10,000 acres an a suitable area. We do not have to sterilise the whole 10,000 acres. In fact, 2,000 acres is all that is required by the Department and the other 8,000 acres could be turned over to light industrial use from which the Government would make quite a substantial profit. This is done throughout the world and should be done here. But here we have the position where the survey was first started in 1965. Now in 1971 the Government comes down with a disastrous recommendation for parallel runways at Sydney Airport. We are taking 2.000 flights a week now and the Department wants to get it up to 4,000 flights, because that will be at least the air traffic between 1970 and 1976. In fact, traffic will quadruple by 1980. lt will grow so fast we will not be able to cope with it. The charter aircraft business will boom. We know this, lt has happened in England. The authorities there are planning major airports of at least 10,000 acres in a country which does not have much land anyway. France is already planning its third airport. In Saltholm off the coast of Norway one is already planned. In Montreal the airport covers 15,000 acres, and so it is in the United States. What do we have here? Nothing - not one site. It is incredible to think that this is happening.

This should be looked at from the point of view of planning. In 1968 it was suggested to the Public Works Committee by no less a person than Mr Fien, who is a lecturer in the Department of Aeronautics at the University of Sydney, that perhaps Dubbo or some other site should be considered. He did not say it should necessarily be Dubbo. He went on to say that people had talked about the dangers of having to go too far away because it is a problem for people. What about looking at modern transport connecting the airport and the people? Modern transport does not mean our archaic railway system which, 1 understand, is the slowest in the Southern Hemisphere. The point is that there are now rapid rail transit systems. They are being developed and used. We should now, in collaboration with the New South Wales Government, be developing such a system to take people from the new international airport to wherever they want to go.

It has been established as a matter of fact that at least one half of the people who land at Mascot change into another aircraft. He raised the difficulty of trying to cope with the traffic when we have big international flights coming in in the peak hours of the morning with the domestic flights there as well. A Boeing 747 unloads some 350 people. One can imagine the congestion there when everybody else is trying to get on or off the aerodrome on a domestic flight. It will not work out, and this is the point he made. If we did separate them we would not have this intermingling. Why does the Government not do it? It is being done elsewhere. I understand that Dubbo and places like that would welcome a bit of decentralisation. In fact, it is the platform of the New South Wales Branch of the Labor Party that decentralisation be carried out to that extent.

I want to place it on record that we are not trying to wipe out the asset at Sydney Airport. The people in the surrounding areas are tolerant enough to say: 'Well, we do not want any further expansion. We will put up with what we have but we want no further expansion. We want no flights over the residential areas and we certainly want the curfew maintained.' But to have them saturated with noise, as this will do, is a complete denial of justice. From the point of view of the Government it is complete irresponsibility. From the point of view of a mandate the Government should lose every seat under the flight paths, and the people in my area would be the first to reject the Government. Certainly the people in Mr Speaker's electorate of Phillip on the heights of Randwick and in Coogee will reject the Government, because they are under this flight path. It should also happen in the electorate of Cook because the people there will be under the further flight paths that this proposal will generate. It is amazing to think that the Government can come in here acting as a responsible government and say: 'We have spent $167m.' It has wasted most of that money.

It was said here in 1968 that one of the most expensive things we could do would be to extend the runway out into the Bay by dredging sand out of the Bay. We have built a 13,000 feet runway for a Boeing 747 that now comes in and lands on the 8,000 feet runway in my electorate. That is how much good planning was done. And what about the report by a senior executive in the Department of Civil Aviation that has never been submitted to the House? It was completed in the 1950s and it suggested that there be no further extensions at Mascot but that another airport be planned. That report was never brought to light but it exists. Perhaps that man was not at the top of the tree but he had the best brains in the Department, yet we have to put up here with some idiotic decision made by people who do not represent the people in the area. If this is a democracy, let this Parliament decide it. Why is it that we were not able to consult people on this matter or investigate it? Why is it that there has been no social survey of the people in the area? It has been done everywhere else in the world. Why are these things not looked at?

The Select Committee on Aircraft Noise took evidence from the air traffic controllers at the airport. They said that they could not be responsible for the safety of aircraft because of the saturation of the air space. Since we took that evidence there have been 2 accidents at Mascot - one a major accident. A Trans-Australia Airlines aeroplane taking off collided with the tail of an international flight coming in. It could have meant disaster for many people on that air strip. Why? Because the air traffic controllers are over-burdened. There was also an accident during the landing of a Boeing 747. It could have been caused by what might be termed a pilot error- I cannot judge the situation - but it was nearly a fatal accident. Honourable members should think of the people in my electorate who are underneath these flight paths. What happens if there is an error of judgment? There could be a disaster. They are the ones who will be sacrificed because this Government has been so frugal and so disrespectful of their rights.

Why is it that they have to put up with this added burden? They could be the first to go if there is some pilot error or if some mishap occurs in this industry. Honourable members know it could happen. Nobody wants to talk about it but it does happen. It nearly happened in the electorate of the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) when an aircraft was taking off. Why should we have that added burden? Do not think there is any real advantage from a local government point of view. The Department does not even pay rates to the council and never once has it submitted a plan to the local council for its approval. That is what it thinks of the local council. These are the matters I want to put to honourable members. Why were not the people consulted a long time ago? What is the real problem with this Government? Why was it so anxious that Tullamarine should be finished first? It is finished now and good luck to the people there. But it is a tragedy for the honourable member for Burke (Mr Keith Johnson) - and he can tell honourable members of this - because of the noise he has been saturated with.

What was the evidence which entitled Tullamarine to some sort of doubtful priority? I want to know, because statistics show that last year at Mascot we took three-quarters of a million international passengers while Tullamarine took 56,000. Now with Bolte's hotel tax they will be lucky to get 6,000. Who would want to go there? If honourable members want to look at traffic statistics there were 3.16 million domestic passengers and .75 million international passengers who went through Mascot last year. It is the thirty-third most important airport in the world, but it is on the smallest area of any major airport in the world. It has been completely neglected for years. It virtually subsidises the Department of Civil Aviation because it makes its greatest amount of money out of international flights.

Mascot is one aerodrome in Australia which makes a profit. As honourable members know, we are subsidising every aircraft passenger from taxpayers' money. Where is the honesty in this situation? The Opposition in this Parliament and the Opposition in the New South Wales Parliament say that a site for Sydney's second airport should be immediately selected. It should not be at Somersby or Richmond; it should be in an area of 10,000 or 15,000 acres. There should be fast rail transport, if necessary, from the airport to the main centres of population. That would be a solution to the present problem, and that planning could be done within 6 months, if it were started now. Do not let us have the situation which has existed for years where we have had to try to drag this information out of this unfortunate Minister. We cannot blame him. The portfolio of Minister for Civil Aviation was put in the Senate to keep the Minister away from our attacks in this House.

We get a report like this. We might as well not have it at all. It is an indictment of the Liberal Government in New South Wales if it is silly enough to say: 'Later we will put the second airport somewhere, but we will allow Mascot to expand'. It deserves to lose every Liberal seat in this area, and the next election will be fought on this sheer issue. This will be the main issue because it involves people's safety, their homes and their assets. Their everyday way of life is at stake. We have to look at the matter from the point of view of schools. Lessons are being interrupted. We also have to look at it from the point of view of hospitals. In this area are located some of the major hospitals in New South Wales and in Australia. What about the interests of the patients? I can show that between midnight and 4 a.m. there were 17 flights over residential areas in December. Do not let us pretend that the curfew is of any real value. What about the running up procedures and the maintenance on engines that are carried out? All this work is done on the airstrip in the early hours of the morning. This is ridiculous from the point of view of the interests of the people.

The siting of Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport was shocking planning originally. It is disastrous planning now to consider doubling the size of the present airport. Then there is the interest of the taxpayers. An amount of $160m has been lost. The Government did not have any interest in the taxpayers when it spent this money. It had a lot of interest in a few international operators, but they do not contribute much to the taxpayer. They are interested in the business of making a profit. We ought to help these operators, sure, but we do not want to subsidise them to the extent that we have. I think that this report ought to be rejected now by this Parliament. I should like to see a vote taken on it so that we would know where everybody stood. I am certain I speak for the people in my electorate when I say that this report is a disaster. It should be rejected, and a committee of this Parliament should be appointed to inquire into the question of where a second airport for Sydney should be sited. Such a committee should consult with the New South Wales Government and we would get a decision within 6 months. The decision would be accepable to everyone, and we would not have the imposition of the sort crf penalty which is being levied on the people whom I represent.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Cope)Order!The honourable member's time has expired.

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