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Wednesday, 15 September 1971
Page: 1354

Mr MORRISON (St George) - Tonight we have been treated to the long awaited report by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) on the second airport for Sydney. But what we got was a squib. The procrastination which has marked the 2i years of preparation of this report is to be followed by a further committee and it will be a long time before we get a responsible decision from the Government. This dilly-dallying ineptitude is not only costing the Australian taxpayers millions of dollars but it is also making life hell for the people living in the vicinity of airports, particularly the Sydney (KingsfordSmith) Airport. It seems to me that the Government could not care less about the people living in my electorate and the adjoining electorates of Barton, KingsfordSmith and Grayndler.

The report displays a complete lack of understanding and, what is more, a complete lack of vision in the planning of what has been described as the fastest growing industry in the world. The Government is standing flat footed in an area noted for its great challenges to human planning. It seems to me that the Government is intent on throwing good money after bad in persisting with the further development of Mascot Airport. It envisages a further investment of $200m in addition to the existing investment of $112m by the Commonwealth. The Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport, as we all know, is a pocket handkerchief sized airport of 1,600 acres. The standard for international airports overseas is between 12,000 and 15,000 acres. This pocket handkerchief size airport at Mascot will have a Commonwealth investment of $300m. The Minister and honourable members on the other side have been speaking about hundreds of millions of dollars. The new international airport at Tullamarine which has an area of 5,400 acres cost only $83m. As far as we on this side of the House are concerned the uneconomic anti-social development of Mascot Airport must be halted and a second site must be selected forthwith and an immediate start made on construction. This is not a new problem. I wish to refer to a prescient statement made 111 years ago by mY good friend and colleague the honourable member for Barton (Mr Reynolds) in 1960. My colleague said:

Rather let us have a public inquiry before great sums of money are expended on the provision of airports in these thickly populated areas. Even at this stage consideration might be given to removing Sydney's international airport to Richmond . . .

That statement was made Hi years ago. lt has taken the Government and its committee 21 years to arrive at the same decision. J am glad to note that the Minister for Civil Aviation in a statement in another place, which has been repeated here tonight, accepts the necessity for a second airport for Sydney. He also recognises that it will be needed by the late 1970s or early 1980s. But 1 wonder whether he recognises that in this day and age it takes 10 years to build an airport, lt takes 10 years from turning the first sod until a regular passenger transport takes off. After 2i years we have this abortive report. How long do we have to wait until the next committee presents its report? 1 think we will be lucky to see the second report before the end of the century. In the meantime land developers are moving into the areas already named in this latest report. There will be additional costs to the Government in the purchase of the land and we will run out of areas large enough for an airport. Because of this long delay I do not think that at this stage wc should just be thinking -about a second airport. Rather, we should adopt a visionary approach of forward planning and think of a third airport.

Because of the lack of vision on the part of this Government in the past in civil aviation matters it is no doubt thinking in terms of needing 4,000 to 5,000 acres for a second airport. As 1 said we should be thinking in terms of at least 12,000 to 15,000 acres. I recently visited Los Angeles and the city authorities have set aside 18,000 acres for the provision of a new airport to be built 28 miles out of Los Angeles at Palmdale: Pending construction of a second airport for Sydney the Government is to proceed with further development of Mascot Airport. It is no secret - this has been obvious to those who have been associated with airport problems - that the Government intends to duplicate both the north-south runway and the east-west runway at Mascot. I am sorry that we are unable to have incorporated in Hansard a map prepared a couple of years ago by the Maritime Services Board of New South Wales. This map shows the 2 runways running out into Botany Bay. What we have to keep in mind is that the cost of extending these runways into Botany Bay is astronomical in comparison with their construction on land.

In the United States the cost of constructing runways and taxiways is approximately $300 a ft. The cost of constructing runways at Tullamarine was approximately $570 a ft. The cost of the extensions currently taking place at Mascot - no doubt this is the extension and duplication that the Government has in mind - runs out at $5,500 a ft, roughly 1,0 times what it costs to build runways on land. But what is equally disconserting is that the projected duplication of runwavs which will be achieved at excessive cost will be a scandalous waste in terms of usage. The limited area available for construction will not allow a 5,000 ft separation of runways. International Civil Aviation Organisation regulations require that for simultaneous use of runways they must be 5,000 ft apart. But the plans 1 have seen for Mascot show that the runways will be only 1,000 ft apart. This will mean that these runways will not be able to be used simultaneously even though there has been a tremendous expenditure of funds on them.

The Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation graciously acknowledged in his speech that there is some conflict between the interests of Sydney as a whole both now and in the future and the interests of communities adjacent to Mascot Airport. lt is very nice of him to concede that point because this is the basic point.

We in this place spend a lot of time talking about the quality of life but when it comes down to a practical proposal this Government is not in the forefront. For example, let me refer to an article by Dr Elfyn Richards, Vice-Chancellor of Loughborough University of Technology, Loughborough, in the United Kingdom. Dr Richards is a former member of the Wilson Committee on Problems of Noise. He made a statement which I hope this Government will keep in mind. He said:

Noise pollution is with us and, like taxation, it is likely to remain. Like taxation, too, noise pollution is unfair if its burden is borne too heavily by a single part of the community. The right balance must be struck between the economic gain a nation derives from the existence of an airport, and the burden of amenity and property loss suffered by local people in the region of the airport.

As the representative of the people of the electorate of St George I can say that this criterion is demonstrably not being used by this Government. Let us have a look at aircraft movements at Mascot. In 1970 there were 123,081 movements at Mascot Airport. The projection of the Department of Civil Aviation is that by 1980 there will be 210,000 aircraft movements at Mascot. My arithmetic is not particularly good but on the basis of the airport being used 24 hours a day this would mean one aircraft movement every 2 minutes. I would like the honourable member for Cowper (Mr Robinson), who is safe in the knowledge that he does not live near Sydney, to spend a couple of nights at my place to find out what one flight every 2 minutes would mean.

Having acquiesced in the growth of the problem of aircraft noise and not handling development of civil aviation in this country with any vision, the Government all of a sudden seeks to place the onus for rectification of the problems of aircraft noise on local government authorities. It has devised a particularly good public relations gimmick which' it has explained as noise exposure forecasts. Noise exposure forecasts do not tell us anything that we do not already know. First of all we know that aeroplanes make noise and when they are flying over residential areas they disturb people. Noise exposure forecasts reveal the degree of annoyance but the Government's superb answer to this is that we should wipe out these areas rather than reduce the noise over the areas. The whole object of the exercise is 'Okay, we regard the airport as important'. Sir Frank Packer certainly regards it as important. As the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) has already pointed out, Sir Frank Packer has indicated to the Government what its attitude ought to be, and this is not the first time that the position of Sir Frank Packer has been made known in this House. 1 am prepared to acknowledge the statement in the Minister's speech on noise monitoring. Noise monitoring is not something that this Government came up with. It was a recommendation of the House of Representatives Select Committee on Aircraft Noise and it was the recommendation that the Labor Party members of the Committee placed in that Committee's report. I want to make it very clear that we will not be satisfied with just putting in a noise monitoring system because as we see it the purpose of a noise monitoring system is not only to monitor noise but also to establish a noise limit and should aeroplanes exceed that limit this system will detect it. The Opposition goes further and says that if any companies persistently violate the noise limit, their permission to land and to operate at Kingsford-Smith Airport should be withdrawn. The Opposition is also delighted to note that the Government will continue to insist on the curfew but as a colleague of mine who is the Mayor of Rockdale. pointed out, as far as this Government is concerned the curfew applies only when airlines do not want to operate. It is to be hoped that the Government will pay increasing attention to the recommendation of the House of Representatives Select Committee on Aircraft Noise that the curfew should be rigidly enforced.

To sum up, the Opposition sees the problem in several ways, but basically the further uneconomic and anti-social development of Mascot Airport must be halted. As I pointed out, the Government is only throwing good money after bad. The airport area is far too small by international standards to justify the huge sums that the Government appears to have in mind for investment. Secondly, there should be an immediate decision to build a second airport arid get on with the job. Thirdly, there should be imposed on planes operating at Mascot a noise limit which should be effectively policed by the noise monitoring system. The operating rights of companies whose planes insist on violating the noise limit should be cancelled. Fourthly, the Government should rigidly enforce the night curfew. I hope that the opportunity will be taken by this Government to adopt a far more effective attitude to the growth of civil aviation in this country. Australia depends upon civil aviation and I hope that we do not have to continue for too long to depend on this Government to give us the lead.

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