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Thursday, 28 June 2018
Page: 6789


Mr GEORGANAS (Hindmarsh) (12:58): I rise to speak on the Airports Amendment Bill 2016. I indicate my support for the amendments that will be moved by the member for Grayndler. I do so because, as you would probably be aware, Mr Deputy Speaker, I have Adelaide Airport in the middle of my electorate—it is situated at West Beach, six kilometres from the Adelaide CBD, in the heart of the electorate of Hindmarsh, and it is surrounded by housing density all the way around, on every side. Like all members in this place, I recognise that aviation is a significant creator of jobs, and economic activity as well. It is one of the largest employers in the electorate of Hindmarsh. It employs more people than most other industries in the airport precinct.

For example, the South Australian tourism industry supports more than 36,000 direct jobs and is worth more than $6 billion annually to my state of South Australia. Direct tourism jobs have increased by 13.8 per cent to 35,700. That is the data from the tourist research that was revealed. This growth rate is significantly higher than the national average of approximately five per cent. We've beaten every other state in that area.

The Airports Amendment Bill 2016 before us seeks to amend the Airports Act 1996, which sets out the conditions that airport lessees operate under. In South Australia, Adelaide Airport Ltd took over the airport back in 2000. Once upon a time it was operated by the federal government of Australia, and gradually we have seen the privatisation of airports around the country. While this act may spell out the legal conditions, it's important that our airports also operate under a social licence—particularly an airport like Adelaide Airport in my electorate, as it is surrounded by housing on all sides six kilometres from the CBD. This is a licence granted when the community is properly engaged and appreciates the benefits an airport brings, but this is also a licence that is maintained through consultation and dialogue.

I have to say that, because there were so many issues with the airport in my electorate years ago and because we do continue to have the odd issue here and there, we set up a consultative group which included residents, resident organisations, industries, airlines and airport workers. We would meet continually every few months to nut out the issues and problems under the guidance of Phil Baker, who was then the CEO of Adelaide Airport. It created a structure and atmosphere of working together and getting through issues.

I'm pleased to say that, when we on this side of the House were in government, the member for Grayndler looked at our consultative committee in South Australia and how well it worked and decided to ensure that there were consultative committees all around Australia where airports existed. I'm proud to say that the model that we put together with residents groups in my electorate became the model which is currently being used for all of Australia. This was a good and important way to find a good balance between aircraft travel and the thousands of residents who live directly under the flight path like in my electorate. We estimate approximately 25,000 residents are directly under the flight path. I'm one of them. I've lived under the flight path my entire life. My dogs jump up and try to bite the aeroplanes; that's how low they fly over my house.

During my time in this place I've raised this issue many times and I've been proud to represent the interests of my local community when it comes to matters of aviation. I'm very proud of our achievements when we were in the Rudd-Gillard government, through the National aviation policy white paper and having worked with the member for Grayndler to ensure that the community and stakeholder voices were heard and protected, as I said, through a formalised consultative process that airports have.

Also through the national aviation white paper we had greater safeguards for residents living in areas adjacent to airports and flight paths. We had mechanisms for the protection of their interests. For example, we have a curfew in Adelaide Airport between 11 pm and 6 am. I think it's important we maintain that curfew and I've always been a staunch defender of that curfew because, when you have an airport six kilometres from the CBD and surrounded by 25,000 households, it is an issue. You have shiftworkers. You have mothers and fathers with young children. You have people that need some form of peace and quiet between those hours.

The upside for the airport is that it is so close to the CBD. That is a special position to be in when you look at airports around the world, where airports are placed miles and miles—sometimes up to two hours—out of the CBD. We know also that having a curfew is not an unusual thing. We know that major airports around the world have curfews. For example, Hong Kong has a curfew of a sort where planes are not allowed to fly in over residential properties or over land between, I think, 11 pm and 7 am. They have flights that come in but only over the sea. Those are the regulations they have in place. LaGuardia Airport in New York has a curfew, as do many other airports around the world. It's not unusual. We hear of people that want to get rid of the curfew and open it up 24 hours a day. I think that curfew is protecting the interests of the residents that live around the airport. I pushed for that for a long time.

We also saw the creation of the Aircraft Noise Ombudsman to receive and resolve complaints from the general public that relate to aircraft noise. Previously, constituents or residents would ring the airport, me, Aviation Australia et cetera for their complaints. There was no independent body to investigate their complaints and come up with findings. In the history of Australia there have been ombudsmen whenever we have privatised our banks or our telecommunications. There have been ombudsmen in those areas because we need an independent umpire to ensure that, when issues were raised by the public, someone would look at it in a completely independent way. I pushed for the Aircraft Noise Ombudsman and spoke to the minister when we were in government, and the member for Grayndler received those issues and came up with a great policy, where we now have the Aircraft Noise Ombudsman, an independent body that can look at those complaints and queries from residents and can resolve them. This was a great innovation and is continuing to be a terrific success.

We also developed a major development plan trigger—this goes to the body of this particular bill—to ensure that the community has the opportunity to scrutinise developments and their impact, so that the local area is not adversely affected. This bill seeks to increase the current threshold from $20 million to $35 million. The rationale presented to us by the government is that the construction CPI has increased since the threshold was put in place. While we on this side of the House accept that the construction CPI may have increased by about 20 per cent since 2007, the bill proposes to increase the threshold by 75 per cent. This would mean a large-scale project could proceed without consultation, local input or public scrutiny from those affected. This could adversely affect a whole area or suburb, and we have seen this happen when there hasn't been good consultation.

The bill also provides that if the minister decides to do nothing with a major development plan within 15 days then it is deemed approved with reduced consultation. We know the history of this government with this parliament. They couldn't even get their act together to keep this parliament under control at the beginning of the parliamentary three-year term. They lost control of this parliament twice. Those opposite have an aversion to turning up and doing their job. This parliament nearly collapsed because they couldn't even get their act together. If you give the minister only 15 days, how can you trust that they will properly consider major development proposals and their impacts, especially on communities such as mine?

The issue of the curfew, as I said, has been particularly important to my electorate. I'm proud that our government continued to protect the curfew, which from time to time enjoyed bipartisan support. I have to give due credit to one of the former members for Hindmarsh, Ms Chris Gallus, who was a Liberal member but fought very hard for the curfew. I was then chair of the Adelaide Airport residents group, which was a group with over 200 members that lived around the airport, and she worked very closely with us. I was neither a member of parliament nor a candidate at that time, but we worked so closely together that the curfew was enshrined in law.

On the eve of the 2013 election, the former candidate for the Liberal Party put out leaflets saying that the curfew would remain with the bipartisan support of both political parties. It's a pity. They put their hands on their hearts and promised that there'd be no changes. We had promises from the Liberal candidate and from the Liberal opposition about undertaking and maintaining the Adelaide Airport curfew. Guess what? Less than two months after the Liberal candidate won the seat of Hindmarsh and the Liberal government came to power, that commitment disappeared. That broken election commitment allowed aircraft to come in before 6 am, even though we had a promise by the Liberal opposition and the Liberal candidate at the time that this would not happen. They broke their promise less than two months after they formed government—and after they had put out leaflets in the entire electorate promising that this would not be happening.

I'd also like to raise the importance of keeping Australians safe. I have raised a series of questions in writing with the Minister for Home Affairs. I'm yet to hear back from him, but it was only a couple of weeks ago, so I've given him some time. I look forward to hearing back from the minister regarding these important questions about security at Adelaide Airport and airports around Australia.

There were reports in newspapers and on radio about workers in our airports. We know they play a tremendously important role, and it's important we provide them with the resources they require and the support they need to carry out their work. I'm very proud of the work I've done with many workers at the airports, through the collapse of Ansett and more recently, with the Australian Services Union. It's so important to ensure that we make workers feel safe at work—and not just make them feel safe but also ensure that they are safe. Our emergency service workers, our security officers, our AFP—they are all hardworking, dedicated people. We have seen recently in media reports that weapons have passed through security screening undetected at Adelaide Airport on multiple occasions. This is deeply concerning, and I've called on the Minister for Home Affairs to investigate these matters.

Labour strongly support investment in aviation and we are committed to growing the sector, but the simple fact is this investment must be underpinned by a social compact between airports and the communities that live around them. We do a pretty good job in Adelaide, through the auspices of Phil Baker, the former CEO of Adelaide Airport, and now Mark Young. We have a good consultation committee. When issues arise I ring them or they ring me. We brief one another, and we are able to work through the issues. But, as I said, this is so important, especially in Adelaide, where we have a trade-off involving an airport that is six kilometres from the CBD and is surrounded by housing and an urban environment.

This is why these amendments will be put forward by the member for Grayndler, and I encourage this parliament to support them. I encourage them to do so because what we see in the amendments is that the proposed monetary trigger for requiring major development plans is to be reduced from $35 million to $25 million. A trigger of $35 million means that bigger projects, projects that have a bigger impact on the community, would be able to go through without any consultation. We are told we need this to 'align better with the recent cost escalations', but, in effect, our amendments mean that more projects at airports will require a formal development application process, which means that there could be better consultation and better input from those communities that are adversely affected.