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Transcript of the Leader of the Opposition the Hon John Howard MP launch 'Sydney airports' policy and Lowe campaign office



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Leader o f the O p position

29 January 1996 JF/AS

TRANSCRIPT OF THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION THE HON JOHN HOWARD MP LAUNCH ‘SYDNEY AIRPORTS’ POLICY AND LOWE CAMPAIGN OFFICE

FIVE DOCK, SYDNEY

Topics: Sydney Airport Noise, Badgery’s Creek, Campaign

E&EO

To Paul and Rita Zammit, to my current and future parliamentary colleagues but most importantly of all the electors of the seat of Lowe, I have enormous pleasure in being here this morning. Not only because I believe we have an outstanding candidate for the seat of Lowe in Paul Zammit, which we certainly do, but this gathering this morning with its marvellous cultural and ethnic diversity drives home a very important point about the political scene in Australia and drives home a very important reality about modem Australia. And that is, as a community we have the

great fortune to be united as Australians yet amongst ourselves to have a glorious sense of diversity and difference which adds a very special lustre to the notion of being an Australian in the 1990s.

It is also worth reminding ourselves and reminding the Australian people of the contribution that previous Liberal governments have made to the building of the great modem post World War II Australian society. The great waves of immigration, particularly from nations such as Italy and Greece that occurred after World War II essentially occurred during the governance of Liberal/National Party governments. And it’s also worth reminding the Australian community, ladies and gentlemen, that two of the great milestones in recent immigration history. Firstly, the abolition of the White Australia policy in 1966 and the opening of Australia’s doors to IndoChinese refugees in 1977. Both of those decisions were taken by Liberal Governments.

So the seat of Lowe has a lot of diversity in it. But I suspect that despite that diversity there is a unity around a large number of things. There is a unity of concern about what has happened to living standards in Australia over the last 13 years. There is a unity of concern about the lack of incentive to be involved in private health insurance

Parliament House, Canberra, A.C.T. 2600 Phone 2774022

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(interjection from the audience)

... and it’s always good to have a little bit of encouragement down on the right hand side but ladies and gentlemen there is enormous unity of concern about so many things in the Australian community. Those things transcend the boundaries of individual electorates but there is a unity of concern in this electorate about something that has a special local resonance. And that unity of concern relates to the way in which the people of Lowe have been abandoned, ignored and had their interests trampled upon by Labor over the aircraft noise issue.

And that ladies and gentlemen is why I have quite deliberately chosen to release the Coalition’s policy on aircraft noise here in the electorate of Lowe. Because this policy serves as a reminder that the political party that cares about reducing the noise burden on people who live in this electorate is the Liberal Party. The candidate who is

concerned about reducing the level of noise affecting this electorate is Paul Zammit. The party that has shown a complete disinterest in reducing that noise level is the Labor Party. The candidate who has abandoned the interests of her electorate is Mary Easson.

Ladies and gentlemen the features of this policy will be well known to all of you but let me just go through one or two of them again. The first of those is that we have a very strong commitment to reopen the East West runway

(Interjection from the audience)

My vocal chords will outlast anybody, I can assure you of that. So ladies and gentlemen, the particular features of this policy are already well known. The first and most important of the policy commitments of the Coalition is that immediately upon election we will set in train the action required to achieve a reopening of the East

West runway. I want to make one very important point. That is that the overwhelming bulk of people who will benefit from the changes that I am announcing in this policy today are in fact people who live in Labor held electorates. So many people, including the people of Lowe and the people of Grayndler and the people of

Sydney as well as the people of Bennelong and the people of North Sydney and I add to that list of Labor held electorates, electorates like Parramatta as well. The overwhelming bulk of people who have been unfairly treated on the aircraft noise issue are people who live in Labor held electorates.

I make the point first and foremost that this is not just a policy exclusively designed for people who live in the Liberal Party heartland. It is a policy designed for all of the people of Sydney, the bulk of whom live in Labor held electorates who have been unfairly treated by the Government on the aircraft noise issue.

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I’m not arguing my friends that anybody can abolish aircraft noise overnight. And I’m not saying to the people of this electorate or to any adjoining electorates that noise is going to disappear altogether. What I am saying is that in the good traditional Australian way, the burden is going to be more evenly and more fairly shared around. That is the fundamental principle of this policy.

The policy reiterates our commitment to proceed with the construction of a second airport, subject to the completion of a satisfactory environmental impact statement. I notice with interest that the Labor Party has hopped aboard the environmental impact

statement bandwagon in relation to Badgery’s Creek after months of procrastination and refusal to follow our lead on that.

The policy commits a future Coalition government to maintain a cap on the air movements at Sydney Kingsford Smith airport to a figure of 80 air movements per hour.

The policy recommits a Coalition government not to privatise, I repeat, not to privatise Sydney Kingsford Smith airport until the East West runway has been reopened and until the completion of the environmental impact statement in relation to

Badgery’s Creek. And it’s interesting ladies and gentlemen that our commitment in relation to the privatisation of Kingsford Smith airport illustrates our approach to the concept of privatisation. We support privatisation when it benefits the public. But if it’s necessary to impose a condition precedent to the privatisation of an asset so as to protect the public interest, we will do so. The privatisation of Kingsford Smith airport is a classic example of that kind of commitment.

We remain very strongly committed to the notion of the fair sharing of burdens in relation to noise through the operation of our airports. We believe that the policy that we are committing ourselves to today is one that will meet the legitimate demands of people who live under the existing North South flight path. It is a policy not designed to punish a section of the Sydney electorate. Rather it is a policy to remove the current punishment on a specific section of the Sydney electorate. No electorate is a better example of that than the electorate of Lowe.

Let me just say two or three things in anticipation of Mr Brereton and Mr Keating repeating the criticisms that they’ve made in the past of our policy on Sydney airport. There is an argument that in some way operating the three runways in inherently less safe than the operation of the parallel runway. All of the evidence that was presented to the Senate inquiry repudiated that proposition. Expert after expert including experienced air traffic controllers as well as experienced pilots testified to the fact that intersecting or interleaving runways operated safely all around the world. The notion that in some way it couldn’t be done at Kingsford Smith was a totally erroneous notion.

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The other argument that will be advanced by some is that in some particular fashion the operation of the three runways will reduce the capacity of Kingsford Smith airport. Once again, the evidence of experts as presented to the Senate inquiry was completely in the opposite direction.

This document, ladies and gentlemen, is a document entitled, “Putting People First”. The purpose of the policy is to respond to a problem that is affecting the quality of life of many people who live in inner Sydney. It is effecting their quality of life in a way that is unfair and unconsciounable. It does not represent some kind of mythical, artificial solution to a practical problem. What it represents is a practical and fair response that will result in a fairer sharing of a burden with a commitment by a future Coalition government to proceed with the construction of a second airport in Sydney’s west subject, and I stress subject, to the completion of a satisfactory environmental impact statement.

This commitment of ours - to a fairer policy, to the reopening of the East West runway - represents a clear alternative to the policy of the Keating Government. I want to make it very clear to all of you that this is not an issue on which people should temporise or park themselves in the middle. If you want the East West runway reopened; if you want the noise burden fairly treated and not unfairly dumped over your houses, then you ought to Vote 1 for a Howard Government.

There are only two alternatives in this election. You either have a Howard Government or a Keating Government. You don’t have anything in between. So, if you want Howard’s policy on the airport, you’ve got to vote for Howard; you’ve got

to vote for Zammit; you’ve got to vote for Hockey and Cameron and for Mansour and for all of our other candidates. Don’t muck around with anything in between because if you don’t vote for them you’ll end up with Keating and you’ll end up with Keating’s airport policy.

So I have very great pleasure in launching this policy. Before I finish can I just say one other thing and return to the remarks I made at the beginning. I really am very proud to have Paul Zammit as the Liberal Party candidate here in the electorate of Lowe. Not only does he already represent half the electorate in the New South Wales parliament but he and his wife Rita really radiate the representation of the great diversity of this electorate. He understands so many of the different communities that make up the community of Lowe. Both he and his wife’s involvement in so many electorate and so many community activities stamp both of them as the sort of people who, in the truest sense of the word, can bring quality local representation to the electorate of Lowe.

Our campaign nationally has got off to a remarkably good start. But can I say to all of you that it is a very long road ahead. Don’t be carried away by early opinion polls. Don’t imagine that this is going to be anything other than a very hard campaign.

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Believe me when I say that we do start as the underdogs because 13 years of incumbency have given to this Government, which ruthlessly spends taxpayers money in the partisan political interest, access to facilities that you and I wouldn’t even dream of in campaigning senses. The incumbency factor in Australian politics confers a massive advantage now unlike the situation even ten years ago, let alone 20 years ago.

Opinion polls will come and go. It’s an old cliche that there’s only one poll that counts. Ahead of us, if we are to win the glittering prize of Australian politics, if you are to have Paul Zammit as your Member, if you are to have so many other new members particularly here in the State of New South Wales, ahead of us lie five very hard and arduous weeks in which we will go through I suppose moments of elation and moments of concern. Don’t get complacent, don’t believe for a moment because you pick up the Sydney Morning Herald or some other papers and you see some great headlines, don’t believe that is necessarily going to be maintained during the campaign.

It’s a very hard fight. I believe that we have the job ahead of us. I am ready. The organisation has never been better prepared. I’ve never been prouder than I am today of the group of candidates that are gathered behind me in the name of the Liberal Party. None is more impressive than the man I hope will be, and with your help he will be, the next member for Lowe, Paul Zammit.

Thank you.

(Ends)