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Wednesday, 13 November 2013
Page: 160

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (15:14): I wish to make a personal explanation.

The SPEAKER: Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?


The SPEAKER: Please proceed.

Mr ALBANESE: I refer to an article on 10 August in a page 1 splash in the Daily Telegraph headlined 'Albo's Air Farce: Minister accused of helping MPs break curfew'. It was alleged by Sydney Airport chief Max Moore-Wilton that my office 'allowed 10 flights after the curfew between 11 pm and 11.30 pm the other night' and he is reported as saying, 'I suspect there were a few politicians on these planes.'

The facts are these. Mr Moore-Wilton would know full well that decisions about the curfew's operation are made by the delegate of the secretary of my former department. Neither I nor my office made decisions on curfew dispensations on that evening. Further, there were no planes which took off or landed after the curfew. Further again, there were no politicians on those non-existent planes.

I seek to make a further explanation. I can do them all in a job lot if you like, in order of the Daily Telegraph's coverage.

The SPEAKER: I think that is a good idea.

Mr ALBANESE: On the same day in an article headlined on page 3, 'Green light to break curfew', Mr Moore-Wilton alleged that I had written to Qatar Airways advising them not to fly to Sydney. The fact is this. Qatar is permitted right now to fly to Sydney seven times a week. Instead they choose to fly seven times a week to Melbourne and seven times a week to Perth, a fact that was relayed to the DailyTelegraph.

I have been further misrepresented in the same article. Mr Moore-Wilton is quoted as saying:

Really he is the minister for no noise over Marrickville. He will never spend a dollar on Sydney Airport because the No Aircraft Noise Party and the Greens will tear him limb from limb.

The facts are these. Sydney Airport is a privately run airport that has made substantial returns. I note it is yet to pay a single dollar in tax since it was privatised.

Further, on 19 August in a front-page splash, 'Albanese blows billions on airport curfew', John Lyman claimed:

The Deputy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese's restrictive management of the Sydney Airport curfew has cost Australia $3.5 billion in lost tourism and nearly 8,000 jobs.

The facts, which were also conveyed to the DailyTelegraph at the time, are these. The curfew was introduced after a private member's bill from the then member for Bennelong, John Howard. As minister, I made no changes to the act or the operation of the curfew. Between 5 am and 6 am the act did allow for limited exemptions for arrivals at Sydney Airport—ironically because of curfews which operate at both Heathrow and Frankfurt airports. By extension of the methods Sydney Airport used—that 11 flights a week deliver almost 8,000 jobs—this logic suggests that Sydney Airport itself is responsible for 4,195,800 jobs.

The SPEAKER: We are getting into argument there. Just show where you have been misrepresented.

Mr ALBANESE: Further, on 19 August, in an article by John Lyman on page 4 of the DailyTelegraph headlined, 'Wimpish personal politics put ahead of the national interest', Mr Lyman argued that I had let my 'fear of aircraft blind him'—meaning me—'to the enormous economic benefits in job opportunities he is denying the people of Sydney'. The fact is this. The regulation limiting flights arriving in Sydney between 5 am and 6 am each week to 24 has not been changed by any minister, including me, since it was introduced in 1995. During my time as minister I received no applications for flights outside curfew from curfew constrained destinations.

Further, on 21 August in an article in the DailyTelegraph headed 'Too few flights cater for Chinese', John Lyman accused me of undermining the Chinese tourism boom by failing to strike a deal to allow more flights in. The facts are these. Right now, more than 5,500 unused weekly sites are available to Chinese carriers flying to major Australian airports and further seats are available for flights to airports other than the gateway airports. As minister, I in fact signed off on agreements which tripled capacity with China. The last agreements were signed just last year and we announced new flights to Cairns with China Southern during the recent election campaign.

The SPEAKER: Is this next one the last one? Good.

Mr ALBANESE: The DailyTelegraph was busy during the campaign. On 4 September in a DailyTelegraph article Andrew Clennell stated that I had 'Failed to turn a single sod on a string of major Sydney projects.' The facts are these. All major infrastructure projects have significant lead times. They require extensive consultation, planning and expenditure before commencement of construction. The work I commissioned on projects such as the second Sydney airport was essential prior work that now facilitates early decisions on the merit of these projects.

The SPEAKER: The member is now getting into argument. He said you had not turned a sod.

Mr ALBANESE: The fact is that in six years the government committed more than $5.5 billion to transport projects servicing Sydney, including $840 million for the northern Sydney freight line upgrade, which was commenced with a sod turned by me and the New South Wales Premier, Barry O'Farrell; $800 million for the Moorebank Intermodal; $980 million for the southern Sydney freight line, which was concluded and opened while I was the minister; $405 million for the F3 to M2 missing link; $300 million for the Great Western Highway, work that is almost concluded; $172 million for Port Botany rail improvements; $93 million to widen the F5 at Campbelltown, which was announced, funded, built and opened on my watch; $75 million for the upgrade of the Port Botany rail line; $40 million for the Port Botany upgrade program; and $1.8 billion to deliver the M4 and M5 extension, in partnership with the New South Wales government and the private sector. The former government's contribution is 5.5 times greater than the total infrastructure investment in Sydney by the Howard government during their 12 long years.