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Friday, 28 June 1996
Page: 2578


Senator CHILDS —by leave—I claim to have been misrepresented by two members of parliament: Danna Vale, the member for Hughes, and Chris Downy, MLA, from the New South Wales parliament. I seek to set the record straight.

On 2 June at Wattlegrove in Sydney's south-west, a meeting was held to protest the federal government's decision to undertake an environmental impact study for a second Sydney airport at Holsworthy. The member for Hughes attended. It has been reported to me by a number of people, including several parliamentary colleagues who attended the meeting, that the member for Hughes misrepresented both me and my colleague the former member for Hughes, the Hon. Robert Tickner.

The member for Hughes claimed that she did not know about the proposal to build an airport at Holsworthy. The member for Hughes quoted me as saying, `Robert Tickner certainly did'—that is, know about the coalition's Holsworthy airport proposal.She was implying that he knew but did nothing. That is a gross misrepresentation of what I said. On 30 May 1996 I said in the parliament about the member for Hughes that:

She says that, when she was a candidate, she did not know about the possible Holsworthy airport site. Robert Tickner certainly did.

The next line is very significant. I said:

He spoke out. The Sutherland council spoke out.

Only minutes earlier in that same speech I described Robert Tickner's activism on behalf of the people of Hughes. I said:

. . . Mr Tickner, who was the member for Hughes before the last election, Sutherland council and others in the area had put to me arguments against that proposal for the airport.

Danna Vale was implying that Robert Tickner kept the information to himself. In my speeches of 29 and 30 May 1996 I described Mr Tickner's response to the Holsworthy proposal. I seek leave to incorporate those short speeches and a press release from Robert Tickner dated 19 September 1995.

Leave granted.

The speeches and press release read as follows

MATTERS OF PUBLIC INTEREST

Second Sydney Airport

Senator CHILDS (New South Wales) (1.52 p.m.)--I would like to deal with two matters that are very serious for my city of Sydney. They are two examples of the duplicity of this government, and of the betrayal by the Howard government of the people of Sydney as far as aircraft noise and the positioning of airports in my city are concerned.

First, I would like to turn to a speech I made on the adoption of the aircraft noise in Sydney report on 30 November 1995. I said:

I just want to draw attention to why we say that we should prohibit the take-off of planes to the north from the third runway.

This week the opposition was sprung in an article in the Financial Review by Tom Burton, headed `Coalition risks new airport noise protest'. He pointed out the fact that under the coalition government proposal--if they were to be in government--planes would be taking off to the north on the existing third runway. Of course, that is the secret plan. Although Senator Parer, as the shadow minister, was quick to deny it, I point out to the people of Sydney, particularly those people who will be affected, that this is just another way the opposition would, if they were ever in the government, vastly affect them in relation to activity that has been banned.

Of course, I was right and the people of Sydney were wronged, because the government of Mr Howard has gone ahead and is doing that. The major betrayal I want to refer to today is a much more serious one. It is the Holsworthy airport proposal whereby 450,000 people in various parts of south-west Sydney would be adversely affected. That is on one reading of it. That is one possibility. It is a serious proposition.

The alternative is that this government is just putting up a smokescreen so that there will be no second airport for Sydney and so that some of the vested interests will not move out of Sydney. People in the inner city of Sydney will have to put up with extensive noise. Whereas our government was moving strongly to develop Badgerys Creek, this government now has stopped in the process and they have proposed this Holsworthy option.

I remember, as a member of this select committee looking into aircraft noise, that we had a proposal from a Mr Pickrell, from a North Shore group. He was following the tradition, I think, that people want an airport but not in their own area. I quote now from the evidence where Mr Pickrell said:

It may well be that this has to be surrendered as a water source and used as a recreational facility instead.

He is referring there to the Woronora Reserve.

Closeness to the Lucas Heights atomic energy installation was mentioned in the EIS and our view is that it may be necessary to move the facility, which would get a lot of cheers from the people of Sutherland. It certainly would not be accepted as a hindrance to a new airport.

So he referred to it in his proposal. Yesterday, I asked Senator Parer, the minister representing the Minister for Science and Technology, what the government would do as far as a Lucas Heights proposal was concerned. Senator Parer did not answer that question that I asked him yesterday.

This is very significant because in the 1979 report of the major airport needs of Sydney, where a careful evaluation was made, the people making that evaluation made the point that Lucas Heights was a significant issue as far as a nuclear reactor was concerned and, of course, that was not addressed by Senator Parer yesterday. It is a major problem and it seriously affects the financial probity of any proposal. But, of course, we do not know who the developers have behind them. We do not know what resources they have. We have no idea at all of how effective that proposal will be.

We certainly know that it is a problem, particularly for the people of Sutherland. As soon as Mr Pickrell presented his material to the committee, I got in touch with Mr Robert Tickner, then the member for Hughes, and he immediately took that matter up in opposition, leading the people of Sutherland against that proposal. The unfortunate thing for Mr Tickner was that the government, then the opposition, did not share that with the people. This is a devious government that we face in Australia at the present. Even though Mr Howard--`honest John Howard'--came before our committee he did not present to us what he had on his mind; in other words, the Holsworthy option was never given to the people of Sutherland.

Mr Tickner fought that issue before the election and it will be very interesting to find out whether the Liberal candidate for Sutherland--she is now, at the last minute, taking up the issue--ever raised her voice on behalf of the people of Sutherland against the Holsworthy proposal. Mr Tickner pointed out to me at the time, as did other people, the reasons why the people of Sutherland opposed the Liberal and National parties' proposal for an airport in the middle of their backyard. People who saw the proposal rejected scientifically years ago, in the MANS report, are now seeing a Liberal Party that is desperate to do something after the election that they did not have the guts, the intestinal fortitude, to put to the people before the election.

I can only say that there will be another election and those people will know the issues. We will make sure that the people know the issues. Just as Senator Forshaw said, `We will make sure you know the issues'. The government will regret its duplicity because the people in the south-west of Sydney will oppose the government at the next election. We will make it a referendum on the sincerity of Mr Howard.

ADJOURNMENT

Second Sydney Airport

Queensland Parliament

Senator CHILDS (New South Wales) (7.40 p.m.)--I had responsibility before the last election for the Sutherland area of Sydney. Before question time yesterday I was speaking about the opposition of the people in the south-west of the state to the proposal by the government to have an airport at Holsworthy. I was referring to the fact that Mr Tickner, who was the member for Hughes before the last election, Sutherland council and others in that area had put to me arguments against that proposal for the airport. I would like to continue to emphasise in the Senate the points that they made. The studies have been done. Holsworthy has been rejected as a suitable site since the 1970s. The only reason to do another EIS is as a sop to the coalition's big business constituency, and that is either the existing airport organisations or the new consortium.

Senator Faulkner --Did the Lawrence Hargraves mob come and give some evidence to the committee?

Senator CHILDS --Yes, they all gave evidence in the sense that they are hesitant about the second Badgerys Creek airport--that is really the bottom line. Of course, the consortium itself has not been sighted. I do not know who they are or what they are up to. It is a mystery at the moment because we had no indication before the election of the devious deal that has been done by this government.

Senator Parer's pre-election promise to the people of Sydney that Badgerys Creek will go ahead is put on hold now by this government. Is this just an excuse for further delays of Badgerys Creek? That is the worry, because that is a threat to all the people in the inner city of Sydney who at the moment have the problem of noise arising from Mascot.

An EIS is not necessary. We know Holsworthy is not suitable. While the proposed airport at Badgerys Creek will be 15 kilometres from the nearest houses, the Holsworthy site is within three kilometres of some of Sydney's fastest growing suburbs, including Wattle Grove, which is only a stone's throw from the site. In the last 10 years 300,000 people have moved into the suburbs near the site.

The area already has Australia's only nuclear reactor, which I have referred to earlier, and the largest garbage tip in the Southern Hemisphere. The site has significant cultural value; it contains a number of Aboriginal sites. A recent unpublished survey by the Australian museum of the Holsworthy site shows that the land supports examples of sandstone vegetation and rarer Cumberland Plain vegetation. Living in this environment are endangered frogs and reptiles, koalas and quolls. I know that Senator Brownhill is concerned about those sorts of things. In fact this is one of the few remaining healthy koala colonies in the Sydney region.

The Holsworthy site is part of a catchment area for the Georges River. The western site of the airport will sit almost on the bank of the river. The erosion and siltation due to the construction process will be more than the river can bear, not to mention the effect of increased aircraft and car pollution in the area. The Georges River supports a number of sensitive mangrove bird and fish breeding grounds. The residents of south-western Sydney have objected to the airport on environmental grounds and because it will affect the quality of life, as I have already mentioned, of 430,000 people.

From a more pragmatic perspective, how would an airport at Holsworthy cope with the massive floods which historically affect the Liverpool-Holsworthy area? How will the flood plains be affected by the massive earthworks required by the airport and associated infrastructure? There are high costs associated with clearing up unexploded ordnances in the military site. There are topographical problems. The land is very uneven, with deep ravines. This is the madness that this government is proposing in the geographic area that is proposed for Holsworthy.

Waste cannot be used to fill the ravines because of settlement problems. One hundred and forty million cubic tonnes of earth landfill would have to be found to level the site. Sutherland council told the Senate aircraft noise committee that they doubted whether there was enough landfill anywhere in Sydney to fill the ravines.

The southern part of Holsworthy was rejected as a possible site in the 1980s because of the constraints already mentioned. The northern part of the site was advocated by the Pickrell group, which I have referred to earlier, but that part is too close to the residential areas. In contrast, the MANS study in the 1970s pointed to Badgerys Creek as a suitable site for a second Sydney airport. The same report rejected Holsworthy, as I have said already. Although there is some local opposition to an airport at Badgerys Creek, the proposal has a great deal of local support.

Liverpool council, a very large council in Sydney, and other local bodies in the area have welcomed Badgerys Creek and indeed have planned infrastructure on the assumption that the airport would go ahead. In contrast, Liverpool and Bankstown councils have vowed to fight the Holsworthy proposal. It is not insignificant that the Liberal Party has dodged the by-election in the Bankstown area. They know the people of Bankstown know they will be affected and are angry about this government's betrayal.

The federal government has already spent $800,000 on the Badgerys Creek site. No-one will be living within 15 kilometres of the Badgerys Creek airport site. That contrasts the thousands who currently live within 15 kilometres of Kingsford Smith airport. Suburbs such as Sutherland, Engadine, Waterfall, Menai, Woronora, Lucas Heights, Milperra, Panania, Revesby, Padstow, Picnic Point, Fairfield, Granville, Hammondville, Chipping Norton, Moorebank, Guildford, Chester Hill, Parramatta and Lidcombe will be affected. The proposed east-west runway points directly at Minto and Macquarie Fields. Planes will fly over both Westmead and Auburn hospitals and the long-established retirement village of Hammondville.

So much for getting away from it all by going bushwalking or camping in the Royal National Park. This national park is one of the oldest in the world, but to the Minister for Transport and Regional Development (Mr Sharp) and this government it is just another flight path. Minister Sharp is calling Holsworthy `an insurance policy'. That is the ultimate insult. Meanwhile, there is no insurance and no security for the thousands of people who would be affected by this proposal. Their lives are on hold. They cannot sell their homes. They could not move out of the path of destruction even if they wanted to.

Mr Sharp has added fuel to the fire by emphasising Holsworthy's supposed advantages as a site. One of those advantages is that the site is big enough to accommodate future expansion--whatever that means. It is cold comfort for the people of south-western Sydney.

I must comment on the member for Hughes, Mrs Danna Vale, who is a Liberal member of parliament. She says that, when she was a candidate, she did not know about the possible Holsworthy airport site. Robert Tickner certainly did. He spoke out. The Sutherland council spoke out. I know she does not live in the electorate, but that is not the real problem. The real problem is that she is not believable because she has no excuse for not defending the people of her electorate.

I would now like to completely move away from the Holsworthy airport issue, but I do want to speak about another injustice. Michelle Cornwell was a deputy clerk of the Queensland parliament. She is a conservative, non-radical person devoted to the enhancement of parliamentary democracy, but this is too much for the National-Liberal Party government of Queensland. She has been sacked.

Michelle Cornwell organised a number of seminars to assist the Queensland parliament set up a committee system, including an estimates committee process, in which I and other senators participated on several occasions. This was done under a Labor government as part of the development of the checks and balances needed for executive government.

But the barbarians are back in Queensland. The sons and daughters of Bjelke-Petersen are now turning back the clock, and Michelle Cornwell--who many senators will recall worked in the Senate as a senior officer with impeccable, professional impartiality--has been crudely sacked. I support her work in the development of a code of conduct for members of parliament. I feel shock and horror if the review caused her sacking. A review of the pecuniary interests of members of parliament might have been the catalyst for her elimination. Whatever the reasons, it is a scandal. (Time expired)

Media Release

19 September 1995

International Airport at Holsworthy not on—Tickner

The Federal Member for Hughes, Robert Tickner, has condemned proposals by residents of Sydney's North Shore to have the second Sydney Airport sited at Holsworthy.

Mr Tickner said, "The proposal to change the site of the airport from Badgerys Creek to Holsworthy Firing Range would be an outrage and, I am sure, would be rejected by residents of all affected suburbs, both in the Liverpool City Council area and in the Sutherland Shire."

The proposals for a major airport at Holsworthy has been put forward by the North Shore Aircraft Action Group in their submission to the Senate Select Committee on Aircraft Noise which met in Sydney last week.

Mr Tickner said, "The proposal for a major international airport at Holsworthy was considered in the 1985 Second Sydney Airport Site Selection Committee and was not supported."

"Over $152 million has now been expended in acquiring land at the Badgerys Creek site and now this North Shore Group is proposing that Holsworthy now be the site of both a new international and domestic airport.

"I have approached a number of members of the Senate Committee and expressed my strongest possible opposition to the construction of any airport at Holsworthy.

"The local Members for the Federal Electorates of Fowler, Ted Grace, and Werriwa, Mark Latham, share my strong opposition to this crazy proposal.

"A further issue of concern is the rugged terrain of Holsworthy range area and very significant environmental problems for this important area of Southern Sydney.

"I can confidently confirm that neither I nor the Labor Government will be supporting the Holsworthy airport proposal.

"It would be my hope that local residents will back my stand on this issue."

For further information

Robert Tickner

(02)521-6262 or (02)521-6180


Senator CHILDS —Mr Tickner's statement to the press which I have just incorporated was released as soon as he became aware that some North Shore residents had proposed the Holsworthy site. That was because I told him about it after the public hearing of the aircraft noise committee, of which I was a member.

The press release makes plain Mr Tickner's position. In it he calls the proposal `an outrage' and he said:

"I can confidently confirm the neither I nor the Labor Government will be supporting the Holsworthy airport proposal.

What is worse is that this gross misrepresentation was repeated in the New South Wales parliament on 4 June 1996 by the Liberal member for Sutherland, Mr Chris Downy. Chris Downy was Danna Vale's campaign director. Chris Downy said that Danna Vale should be praised for her opposition to the EIS proposal. He said:

That contrasts starkly with the approach of the former Federal member for Hughes. Last week Senator Childs actually indicated . . . a Labor Senator, a factional colleague of the former member for Hughes—that Robert Tickner certainly did know about Holsworthy and the proposal to put an airport there.

I seek leave to incorporate a section from page 16 of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly Hansard of 4 June.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows

The honourable member for Bulli also attacked in this House the Federal member for Hughes. That is probably because he had something to do with the failed Labor campaign in the seat of Hughes, which saw one of the largest anti-Labor swings in the country. The Federal member for Hughes has been very active and vocal on this issue. She has defended the people she represents; she has put them before her party and she should be congratulated for what she has done. That contrasts starkly with the approach of the former Federal member for Hughes. Last week Senator Childs actually indicated—

Mr Phillips: He is a Labor Senator, isn't he?

Mr DOWNY: That is right, a Labor Senator, a factional colleague of the former member for Hughes—that Robert Tickner certainly did know about Holsworthy and the proposal to put an airport there. (Time expired)


Senator CHILDS —Once more there has been a deliberate decision to quote me out of context, to cut the quote, to give the impression that I said that Robert Tickner knew but did nothing. This could be no accident. As I have pointed out, the very next sentence that I uttered was, `He spoke out.' I informed Robert Tickner, as I have said. He acted very publicly, as the press release that has been incorporated shows.

This is the worst experience I have had in 15 years in this chamber of dishonourable conduct by parliamentarians. I challenge the two members that I have referred to to act honestly and apologise and recant what they have done. I invite their electors to examine the material and judge them by what they have done.