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Monday, 22 September 2014
Page: 10154

Mr HUSIC (Chifley) (18:44): It is good to be in a chamber where I have an opportunity to share some time with colleagues from Western Sydney, some who have passionately fought on an issue that I have spoken about, others who are realising that the Nirvana that is going to lob on their doorstep is not necessarily going to help that area. That is the issue of Badgerys Creek. I note member for Macarthur here—a once staunch opponent—has become a muted supporter of the airport. The member for Macquarie has constituents who will no doubt be very interested about the environmental impact of an airport in the region operating 24 hours a day, as does the member for Mitchell, who occupies the Deputy Speaker's role tonight. I am careful not to make any reflections, Deputy Speaker—I am wise to that. But certainly the Deputy Speaker in other places has rightly voiced a concern about the impact on his community of a 24-hour-a-day, no-curfew airport, an airport that has been pushed by a coalition of eastern suburbs interests that have deigned to tell the western suburbs what is good for us. Not necessarily content to give us the infrastructure or services that we actually need, we are told that the best thing to create jobs in our region is an airport of the variety that is being pushed by the coalition.

The coalition in the Abbott government has managed to cut education spending, with $270 million cut from schools in the Chifley electorate over the next 10 years. That is the highest figure in Western Sydney, but there are a number of electorates that are also affected by that. They have changed the higher education funding, and we will see 40 per cent of funds going to universities cut and fees increased for the people of the region who are going to UWS. We have been undermined there. Health spending has been cut and in our area vital health infrastructure removed, but there is $1.5 billion for an airport that we did not ask for. There is also all this money for roads around the airport—not necessarily to deal with the congestion issues that affect Western Sydney but mainly to deal with the congestion that will arise out of this airport. So that money stands there, and we are told that the reason we have to support it is jobs.

We are told that 60,000 jobs would be created, which is just ridiculous given that Sydney Airport has just under 30,000 jobs for 28 million movements. You cannot tell me that a single-runway airport in Western Sydney will create 60,000 jobs as opposed to the three-runway configuration in the gateway of Sydney Airport. The reality is it is going to be 5,000 jobs for quite some period of time. For a region that has nearly two million people, 5,000 jobs is roughly one job for every 400 residents of Western Sydney. I am happy for people to quibble if they think the figure is different; I do not think it is going to be much different from that.

It is either 5,000 jobs or 60,000 jobs. It cannot be both. It is either a one-runway configuration delivering 5,000 jobs or it is something bigger that will deliver 60,000. Either way, people are being fed a lot of nonsense, not being told the truth and not being given fact. I want to come to the point of fact as well because it is important that fact be utilised and deployed on this issue that will impact on the lives of many people in Western Sydney when they are not getting the services and infrastructure they need across or region and are being told that the money that is being cut out of health, infrastructure and education is going to be devoted to an airport generating 5,000 jobs that will stick that way for 5,000 years.

Some of the people who have come on board this project who have previously been in opposition are people like, for example, UWS, which understood previously that this was not the best project around. But you have Chris Brown, the Western Sydney resident who lives in Birchgrove and also sits on the UWS board. He has done a very good lobbying effort on that board to ensure that the new vice-chancellor cops onto this notion that he will support the airport. And what irony that UWS, which will see its funding cut, be forced to cut jobs itself and also be forced to lift fees on the very people it has a mandate to represent in Western Sydney to ensure they get higher education, will support an airport and see the money that has gone from the university plugged into the airport. It is quite ironic to see that actually happen.

We have also seen the Sydney Business Chamber, represented by David Borger. I remember standing shoulder to shoulder with David when he represented residents and was opposed to the airport. Now that he represents business interests, it is good to see that his consistency has been maintained and that he has stood up for the residents of Western Sydney—no such thing! He has now come out and been pushing the airport and changed from his role as mayor. He is now representing business interests and pushing the airport.

It is interesting that this is the longest death-siren signal for Parramatta. Quite frankly, getting an airport in south-west Sydney, combined with the growth of the south-west growth centre over there, will see economic activity shift from that part of Western Sydney to an economic activity lift in south-western Sydney. It will be interesting to see what role Parramatta will have in years to come. When I raised the point about the need for us to think carefully about urban development in the south-west—to ensure that we had a CBD that was properly planned, allowed for good people movement and good long-term jobs and which provided a new focus for economic activity in our area—David Borger labelled that as 'the most stupid idea he had ever heard'. But if Badgerys Creek does go ahead, consider what it will do to Parramatta—and he is supposed to lobby for Parramatta's interests. I would have to say that supporting Badgerys Creek in his position probably deserves the same condemnation that he is ready to dish out to others.

The most important thing that needs to be borne in mind is the one where I made a reference about facts. As I said earlier, I note the presence of the member for Macarthur; I note that the Deputy Speaker has spoken about the impact of this airport on the amenity for his constituents, and rightly so; and I also note the member for Macquarie's interest, although she is not here. But it is interesting to ask: when are we going to get an environmental impact statement on this airport? The last one was done in 1997. Anyone who has lived in Western Sydney for an extended period of time knows that the face of our region has changed remarkably. It has opened up to development; there are more and more young families going out west and they made decisions on the basis that both political parties opposed the development of Badgerys Creek. They saw new estates opening up and they can quibble rightly about the speed at which infrastructure development matched growth in residential terms.

But it has changed. With the topography of that part of Western Sydney being the way it is—hemmed in by the Great Dividing Range and with the Cumberland Plains being as flat as they are—and with Western Sydney having some of the highest rates of asthma in the country, then you worry about what might happen in terms of air quality in that area. Or you might worry about the impact of the 24-hour facility in certain parts of Western Sydney as well. And yet we have heard nothing about an environmental impact statement to update the 1997 statement that was brought down. We have heard nothing!

We have had a lot of people, for instance, cheer about the fact that there are contractors on site. There are surveyors on site at Badgerys Creek and all these works happening. All this money has been committed to roadworks in that area but no-one has had the decency actually to say when the environmental impact statement will come out. I have heard rumours from those opposite that there is a suggestion that there will be no EIS. If they are just rumours, then they be that. But there certainly needs to be clarity about whether or not there will be an EIS.

I went to a briefing that was called by the Deputy Prime Minister—which the Deputy Prime Minister failed to attend himself—where, when this question was put forward, the department seemed to suggest that there might not be an environmental impact statement; that it might be refreshed via a desktop study—a desktop evaluation. That is simply no excuse for the requirement that the proper work and the analysis not be undertaken. We need to ensure that the people of Western Sydney, in having had this monstrosity forced upon them—this white elephant that is going to suck up billions of taxpayer dollars at the same time as losing out on health, education and infrastructure spending—are not also as a result having an environmental impact from this airport operating in that way. The EIS should tell us whether or not we are facing a one- or three-runway configuration in that area and what the environment impact of that will be. Let the people of Western Sydney know fully what impact will be placed upon them.

But again, it is simply a rush for publicity by this government to try to keep eastern Sydney interests happy. And they are aided and abetted by Western Sydney Liberal representatives, who have failed to stand up for their constituencies and who have instead just let the government roll this proposal out and see the longer-term interests of the region impacted in this way.